Hi, I am excited to write this guest post for Mormon Mommy Writers. I am Lisa Rector, a stay at home mom for two lovely daughters, ages 10 and 7. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for eleven years this December. I grew up in the Catoctin Mountains and had the advantages of spending most of that time outdoors. After college I worked as a labor and delivery nurse while waiting for my sweetheart to come home from his mission. The rest of that is history, and I am happy to say I am more in love with my wonderful husband every day. Completely an introvert, I relish the quiet life. You could say I am a little reclusive except for a few dear friends I enjoy sharing a cupcake or wild game night with.
Writing was just a fleeting whimsy in the past, I wrote poetry in high school to express my teenage angst. As my youngest entered kindergarten, I wondered what I would do all day. I considered working at a garden center, training to be a massage therapist, or a yoga instructor (All things I enjoy or am passionate about). But the reality of my physical limitations, due to health problems, started to set in—especially these past three years.
I just started writing this February. And here is the truth of it, which I have no shame in sharing since this is a Mormon Mommy Writers Blog. I feel that as an LDS woman, we all face moral issues at one time or another. I have an active imagination, and like to fantasize or tell stories to myself in order to get myself to fall asleep at night. (I suffer from insomnia and Restless Leg Syndrome.) I realized that some of my ‘imaginings’ were more graphic than I liked. It was turning into a problem. So I began to pray about it. Well, one night I got the most distinct answer. Write. Put my dreams on paper. I already knew that anything I wrote would have to be something that I would not be embarrassed in any way, say, if my father read it. So it began the next day. The first thing I did was draw a map of a fantasy world, one of which, I had no idea how it would take shape. I let the pencil and the lines show me the way. I was excited to see the beginning of a world emerge. I created a new species that follow the themes of light verses dark, a concept I have always been interested in. My stories are underlying romance, but I want the reader to learn some core truths that I weave into my work. So approaching a year later, I have rough drafts of the first two books, and I have started on the third. They will be a chronicle of undetermined size. I am just trying to be patient, (which is not my strong suit) and enjoy the writing process for now.
I have to laugh, because in High School English class I received C’s! My teacher actually called home once because I was so close to getting a D. My grammar is sad. I equate it to learning a second language, because I just can’t remember all the rules. In the beginning of my writing, I worried that my skill level would only be appropriate for youth readers. My favorite author is Brandon Mull, and I looked at his writing and thought, I can do that. I can write something at least up to that level. It really helped when I joined a writing critique group and saw that many first drafts were just like mine!
Several fellow writers encouraged me to just write until everything in my head gets on the paper. Don’t worry about the editing in the beginning. That is so true. Trying to edit even one chapter, or one sentence, I should say, was pointless. I was probably editing it wrong anyway. I scrounged up a writer’s reference, and read it here and there, but it really makes my head roll.
Point of view is still a challenge, but it is getting easier. Tenses drive me nuts. Still trying to figure out how to show the reader, instead of tell the reader. I hear the emotional Thesaurus is a great reference—I need to order it. I read lots of blogs on writing. I should read novels more, but I am at a time in my life when I am so restless. If it doesn’t hold my interest right away, then I never finish it (I can thank my new writing skills and blogs I have read about introductory hooks). I prefer quick easy reads, which I hope my books will be also.
Find friends to read your work. I am always afraid of being too wordy with my writing or adding boring details, but so far, it seems that with my fantasy world, everyone wants more clarity. That is so hard for me, when I know all about my world and others don’t. Read through one section of your writing and ask yourself, what does the reader learn from these few pages? This really helps to see it from the reader’s point of view.
I struggle with finding the right time to write. If my days are crazy, I want to write in the evenings, and then I end up neglecting my children. I try to write in the mornings as soon as I send them off to school but that doesn’t always happen. I have to compromise. I think of this as a part time job, and I have to make time for my kids. But that being said, when I get an idea, I have to write it before I forget it, which happens to me a lot.
I decided to write three books at the same time, partly because I wanted to make sure there were no discrepancies between the books. Several of my characters are in all of the books. I am giving myself three years, one year a book. It could take a long time for me to feel the books are ready. I want to make sure my characters are developed enough. Thoughts have passed my mind about how so many fantasy genres are epic. I don’t think my books would become that deep, but I don’t want them to only be about the romance. I am determined to take my time until I get it right. It is possible I might start another book in the meantime. I find writing at least distracts me from the editing process.
Joining a critique group was probably the best thing I could have done. It is a group of six LDS authors. Some are published; okay, I think maybe they all are. Some are self-published, and some were blessed enough to find publishers. It is interesting to get a manuscript back from them, and see how they all viewed my chapter. It feels like a puzzle for me to put together, but right away I started learning even more. I crave the learning, and it is teaching me to slow down. I might roll my eyes, and say, oh, not again. Or, I thought that section was awesome, but that isn’t always the case.
Writing has opened my eyes to how I see things in the world. I think of things in the five senses. I dream now in a narration. I think, how would I describe this event in a book? I love that I am learning and growing. The one thing that I need to learn in this existence, the one thing I came to earth to gain a body for, is patience, and writing does just that. Writing shall be my greatest challenge and my greatest teacher.