Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Working or Networking?

Since I normally feature various authors on my website, I get a good chance to interview authors and not only learn about what they are writing but their writing styles and how they got started as writers. I also get the opportunity to find out how they keep up with the writing process and if they have any little secrets the rest of us can learn about becoming more prolific or getting our writing done.

Being a fiction writer can be a lonely task. It’s not something that can necessarily be done in a group setting. In the old days, when I was working in a television newsroom, there was the constant chatter of other newswriters all around me and people were constantly chatting or asking questions. I’m not sure how it’s done now, but the last time I visited a TV newsroom, I was struck by how quiet it was. No teletypes clattering, no typewriters, and even no noise from monitors around the room. People wore earphones and plugged into whatever they needed to hear. I wonder if they constantly ask each other questions like we used to, although I suspect that it is all done through messaging directly into the computers at their workstations.

I think I would miss some of that chatter if I was still working there. As I write and work on my
fiction I think one of the things I miss most is having other writers around to ask a question or to lament over how bad a passage is going. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoy getting together with other writers and hearing how they work or what problems they might be having. And it is always revealing to hear what people are working on or the research they are doing on their current books. And the writing process is always fascinating to discuss.

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending a book signing with Anne Hillerman and Sara Sue Hoklotubbe who both write mystery series set in New Mexico with Native American characters. Hearing them talk about how they had come up with their characters and how they worked to remain true to the Native American customs and the setting was fascinating. 

For Anne Hillerman, she said she felt like she had grown up with the characters of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee because she was there as her father wrote their stories through his many books. She said they were “practically like brothers” to her. But she has worked hard on her own to advance the character of Bernadette Manuelito in her current series.  Her newest book in the series, Cave of Bones, has just been published. It is the fourth in the current series and as usual, the setting plays a big part in her book. She says she set it in the lava flows near Grants Pass, New Mexico because they intrigued her. Having traveled through that area on several occasions myself, I'm equally intrigued to read the book. 

Both authors said they try to bring out the natural beauty of the country where their stories take place. Both also said they write every day and that was the advice they had for aspiring writers – never lose sight of what you want to accomplish and work on your writing continually if you want to get those stories written.

The daily writing habit is a good one to form and to practice. With so many distractions around us, we often lose sight of the prize. Several days later I attended a session with other writers at the Mountain of Authors in Colorado Springs, Co. Again, writing was the number one topic on our minds. We talked about the joy—and drudgery—of daily writing but we also discussed how important the habit is to form. Whether it is working in a notebook to get those scenes written in long hand or sitting at the keyboard in a closed room or with a beautiful spring day staring you in the face, the only way to get that book finished is to write, write, write.  And that is what I will do now…

But here’s a quick blurb on Anne Hillerman’s new book:

When Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito arrives to speak at an outdoor character building program for at-risk teens, she discovers chaos. Annie, a young participant on a solo experience due back hours before, has just returned and is traumatized. Gently questioning the girl, Bernie learns that Annie stumbled upon a human skeleton on her trek. While everyone is relieved that Annie is back, they're concerned about a believed instructor who went out into the wilds of the rugged lava wilderness bordering Ramah Navaho Reservation to find the missing girl. The instructor vanished... 

As an avid reader of her father, and now Anne's books, this one sounds like another mystery I won't be able to put down! 

1 comment:

  1. I love Anne Hillerman. She's a fantastic writer. I'll be sure to pick up her book, Cave of Bones. Thanks for an interesting article, Rebecca.


Romancing the Rails

The snow has started falling in our Colorado mountains, so I think it's time to start turning attention to that fall and winter reading ...