Writing on Life

When writing a novel, the entire outside world stops. That’s the way my brain works. I can’t say I am introverted or extroverted. I am both at different times. I’s hard to find balance.

Much of my writing evolves from my life experiences. Spending weeks into years in front of the computer writing narrows my focus. That’s a good thing for my writing.

However, to a degree, living stops. I don’t go out to socialize much. I don’t play games. I don’t get much work done outside of writing. I don’t go to movies. Hell, I don’t even watch television.

If it wasn’t for date night and the need to consume food, I’d never go out to eat or go to the grocery store.

But I get stories written.

The flip side to that is spending time living life offers me much to write about. People I meet, places I visit all have a way of getting integrated into my writing. Life experiences become the ingredients of my writing.

My two favorite quotes on writing and life:

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
― Gustave Flaubert
“In order to write about life first you must live it.”
― Ernest Hemingway

The ideas expressed in the quotes seem on the surface to be in opposition, yet apply to me. They’re understandable.

I’m not so regular and orderly, but I like writing about those things that are beyond the scope of my own comfort zone in living. Granted, I have been known to live a wild and crazy life, but even I have limits. My books know no limits. My characters do things and get involved in ways I never could…in real life.

The old cliché, “Write what you know” comes home to me each time I take my seat at my desk. Having lived a full life and taking long breaks from writing to live life has fed me and continues to feed me.

I am obsessed with life. When I am living life, and not writing, I am driving all over the state, meeting new people from all walks of life and visiting places I never knew existed. Hosting lavish parties with four-hundred guests and attending events with thousands. Life is terrible, grand, scary, comfortable, fascinating, exciting, horrific, and wonderful.

There is nothing dull about the life I live.

Now, on to writing.

I recently participated in the “Give Me Five” podcast with Jimmy McCurry, Greg and Rob. They review all sorts of things: movies, TV shows, games, books, places…all of those things that keep us entertained with living. I will let you know when the podcast airs. They asked me some questions and let me talk about writing, my book, Naked Alliances, and list my five favorites. I chose five favorite literary influences. I will keep you informed when the podcast goes live.

18 thoughts on “Writing on Life

  1. Love the quotes! I’m the same way, Susan. When I get into a novel the world around me ceases to exist. I try to keep up with social media every few days, but all I want to do is keep writing. I’ve yet to find the balance between deadlines and the real world other than to shutdown my computer at supper time and not open it on Sundays. I think the work suffers if we try to juggle too many things at once.

      1. Yes, I want to do a series where a science-minded guy gets thrown into otherworldly situations that make him have to reassess his own beliefs. I’ve got the first draft written of the second one, but I’m putting it on hold while I write a different book. Once I get back to writing, that is…

        1. It’s funny you say that. I was talking with someone last weekend explaining how the medical world that I was indoctrinated into through education is so far removed from what I believe now. I am glad I have retired from the field. Doing routine health screenings for corporations was the last part-time gig I had when I was semi-retired. So much of what I was expected to educate the general public about thru those programs was bogus…pharmaceutical company propaganda. I couldn’t do it now. I look forward to the series.

  2. I totally agree with the idea of writing what you know. On some level. But the stories that I have written that I am the proudest of are the ones that are as far removed from “me” as possible.

    1. Writing a story that requires more research than life experience is definitely more challenging, I think. I love to learn new things, but the words don’t flow well unless it’s a topic that I am well-versed in.

  3. I’d heard those quotes from Flaubert and Hemingway before, and they’re both very true. Norman Mailer once stated that everything in his life stopped, when he began a writing project. Gabriel Garcia Marquez supposedly once sold his car when he began work on a novel; he said the vehicle’s absence would prevent him from following any distractions.

    I’d say you’re somewhat more extroverted than most creative people, Susan. We all have our personalities and make it work for the best we can. As long as people remain true to themselves and not try to be what others expect, then they’ll pretty much live long, happy lives.

    I no longer have shame in saying I am NOT a people person. I’m the type who goes to a party and will make friends with any dog on site, rather than try to engage in faux conversations. In 2007, British novelist Doris Lessing reacted to winning the Nobel Prize by saying, “Oh, Christ!” – thus insinuating she could care less. Awards of any kind are ridiculous and purely subjective. Years afterward people will remember the book, film, etc. more so than the awards.

    1. I have social anxiety and detest small talk. I think I am able to blab on the internet due to it’s seeming anonymity…and that the written word is sometimes easier for me than the spoken word.

      I put 7000 miles on a new van playing Pokemon Go, but haven’t driven it in two months, except to the store on the corner. I have some great Pokemon stories to tell though. 😉

  4. Thanks for sharing! I also know the feeling of being sucked into the computer and not really leaving the house other than going to work. I spent great lengths of time at my pc either writing my book or blog or reading somebody else’s.

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