Friday, July 8, 2011
Finding Voice and Courage - Kristina Emmons
I guess in a way writing can feel for me like a non-activity, as if it’s not actual work since so much of it is mental, unlike other art forms, where you get to see tangible progress on a canvas or with a piece of clay or wood. Writing is “only” words on a page! But getting them down in a coherent, relatable way is a lot of work, and it is art that can be magical for the reader when done well. Just like with any art form there are those who appreciate what you put out and those who might oppose it, so it can be a fearful experience to subject yourself to public opinion.
Writing novels is for me the art that completes me. I didn’t recognize that for a long time. I knew I had writing ability and a strong command of language in general, but storytelling was never something I thought I could do. My grandmother was the story teller, I was the wallflower in the corner who rarely opened her mouth, so when I first began to look at writing as a career I assumed journalism was the best fit for me. It was like book reports but for life, right? I could do that. It certainly seemed the most respectable way to go, but after an unfortunate interview at the offices of the local paper I was turned off to journalism itself. My next choice was writing articles for magazines. Articles about what, though? I was young and had little life experience. And submitting to so many different publications sounded as tedious as sanding wood for me.
This writing thing began eating at me. I was pregnant with my first child and I needed a creative outlet, something for myself. My husband suggested I write a book, and I laughed. That was for the big dawgs, for people who like, went to college for that! Thoughtfully, he enrolled me in a correspondence writing course. For various reasons I couldn’t complete it fully, but the instructor feedback I got in those few lessons gave me a great boost of confidence. I could do this, I could tell stories! Maybe I couldn’t verbalize them well, but writing was a perfect medium for me. Soon the seed of a story lodged into my mind, and with unsteady fingers I began to type.
The blank page can be daunting. After several false starts, years of research into Victoriana and writing, and doubts and revisions too numerous to count, it was nine years until I published Roeing Oaks, my first novel. To my delight, response was wonderful, with demand for a sequel! I’m nearly finished with it and can’t wait to get started on another book. I suppose my best day as a writer was deciding not to quit. The worst? About halfway through the first draft of Roeing Oaks, when I realized what a long, arduous road lay ahead.
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