I find myself repeating this almost daily as a mother and wife. It’s become a mantra of sorts, I suppose. My children are busy and often involved in whatever is holding their attention (usually not me) and don’t always respond when I speak to them. Because I care that they understand the rules, the guidelines, the instructions etc. that I have just rattled off, I will repeat myself usually precluded with one of the aforementioned questions. I know this is the norm. I’ve heard and seen it in many of my friends’ households and heard it from my own parents when I was a child as well, but recently I have thought about what I mean when I say these words.
I am an over-thinker. As a writer of novels, this is not a bad thing to be. It makes it easier to imagine every possible outcome for my characters. But as a mother and wife I probably spend too much time on why I use that particular set of sentences. In reality I know they hear me. They are not deaf and I do not have a quiet voice or manner about me. What I mean when I ask them this is “Do you understand what is expected of you?”
“Yes Mom, I hear you.” -The most common of the answers to my questions, and usually accompanied by a sigh of frustration.
But that’s not what I really wanted to ask. And just because they heard me doesn’t mean they understood me. So why not just ask them the question I mean?
Because I might not like the answer? Because I might have to explain? Maybe because I feel pressed for time and don’t want to delve into it any deeper. Maybe because it’s habit. I suppose the answers are as infinite and different as the people giving them. But this over-thinking writer is concerned with how it shapes who we are and the world we live in.
“Say what you mean and mean what you say.”
I’m sure you’ve all heard that phrase before. Do you all hear it in the Horton the elephant’s voice too? 100% LOL
It doesn’t seem like a difficult concept. But the more I think about it, the more I understand that the world around me rarely follows this advice. We say things we don’t mean all the time, during arguments with our family and friends, to our bosses and coworkers to curry favor, to strangers to be polite. What would the world look like if everyone only said exactly what they meant? Would we all want to live in that world? Would it be more complicated? Or less?
Hmm… sounds like another book idea is in the works. Who wants to help me with research?
My mind is always working. Even when I am sleeping, my mind continues to work on my stories. It never ceases to amaze me how many times I have found the answer to something I am writing within the vault of dreams. Currently I am working on another YA fantasy novel. I have been hashing out the world’s rules and government, trying to come up with terms of office that I liked, and job descriptions for each. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around something I really liked and fit my story. So, I went to bed early. (I tend to be a night owl when I am working on a project.) Lo and behold I dreamt, and upon waking had the solution to my dilemma.
So, writing solution found, I began thinking about how many times I have found story ideas or solutions within my dreams. It seems that inspiration strikes me most in bed. Which means at times, not everything gets remembered or makes it to the page. I find myself frustrated that I can remember that I had a great idea but not remember the actual idea. (And yes, I keep a notebook within reach.)
Now, I find myself thinking, “Hurry up science! I need a way to transfer my dreams directly into my writing program.”
Ooo, there’s an idea!
Every time I begin a new story, I start to picture what the characters look like, as well as what personality traits they carry, etc. but it always starts with what they look like. Over the years that I have been writing, I have done different things to help out my imagination. When I was younger, I drew my characters, I sketched out floor plans of homes, and I looked through old pictures I took of pretty places in the world around me to add to my stories.
These days, with the internet being such a trove of photos and pictures to look over, I have gotten out of the habit of drawing my characters. I will spend hours combing through google images to find the faces of strangers, and sometimes celebrities, that fit my idea of who my characters are and what they look like. But I wonder if, by being less organic, I am taking something away from my stories. My drawings had flaws (lots of them). Faces were not smooth like airbrushed pictures, they were filled with crooked lines and eraser mark scars. (I’m not an artist of any real talent, I just have a love of creating) Am I doing myself a disservice? Does it change how well I understand my characters, or how realistic they seem in my stories? I’m left to wonder for now. But I think an experiment may be in order.
I’m always curious to know how other writers work, what their process is, since there are as many different ways to write, as there are genres. I’d love to hear how any of you create! Leave me a comment.