A Writer's Life
As a professional writer and editor, I have supremely benefited from a life-long personal interest in a wide and eclectic range of subjects:
Geology; French symbolist poetry; medieval English and French literatures; fashion history; electronics and electricity; quilting; architecture; botany; horses; dams in the American West; the history of medicine in Europe and America; art in general and visual arts of the 19th century in particular; film directors and their techniques; music and composers; etymology and philology;
rhetoric (in its original meaning); the Renaissance; U.S. military history; development of the Industrial United States (1876-1915); the history of the 11th and 12th centuries in Great Britain; and France: her language, literature, history, people, and the peculiarities that are quite the norm for the French. Many other topics arouse my curiosity; I research them as they appeal to me. If a topic does not hold interest for me, I do not research it.
When I am reading my way through a book, I go through it quickly in either of two ways: I either read the book from cover to cover with enthusiasm; or I struggle through the first few pages (at times up to a chapter), and then I decide that the book is so bad that it does not deserve my attention or even donation. It goes straight into the garbage.
I never read the end of a book first, although any writer of fiction has to know the ending of the story before ever putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard for the beginning. And my first sale on smashwords.com was Volume II (TWO), not Volume I, of THE DAWN. A sale is a sale but the idea that the ending was purchased before the beginning was something that offended not just my sensibilities but surely those of Guillaume de Vallon!
I have been influenced, for better and for worse, by everyone and everything that I have read, but of special and endearing interest to me are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vladimir Nabokov, Blaise Pascal, Victor Hugo, and Louis L’Amour. I enjoy reading French aloud, particularly the plays of Corneille and Molière; Balzac; and poetry from any era prior to the 20th century. I also enjoy singing various types of music, specifically Italian arias and Irish ballads. These vocal activities assist me in developing the “voices” for narration and characters in my novels.
My choice of writing as a profession is one that I probably did not choose at all. Fate may have done the choosing; I submitted to it, but not easily. It’s not for the faint-of-heart, the labor of love that comprises the work of a writer.
Writing is a profession that demands as much as it gives to the individual. I can say with utter honesty that my work has blessed me with enrichment of the soul and deepening of the heart. The basic need for contemplation, to pause-and-reflect, has required that I grow as a person in order to fulfill the demands of my art.
Writing, however, is not the be-all and end-all of my creativity or even of my life. My family comes first, and my personal self must, at times, take precedence over my artistic self. I do divide the two entities within my self. There have been times when I’ve placed my personal self at emotional risk in order to allow the artist in me to thrive; later I nurture the entire person as a way to distance myself from my art, and as a means to focus once more on the personal life. Artistic burn-out is possible even for someone like me who is highly disciplined, regulated and moderated in her creative work.
Oftentimes I prefer to draw or paint or sing or sew rather than write, or compose fiction; but the development of those creative talents infinitely augments my writing. The creative mind is always at work, even when I do not want it to be. Waking up at 7 a.m. with lines of dialogue in my head might sound awesome to many people, but living the awesome-ness can interfere with my routine of life, a pace that is, admittedly, slow and steady. I’m not aiming to win any race; that style of being comes naturally and merrily to me!
My artistic quiver holds many arrows. The target, or bull’s-eye, is a vision that is at once aesthetic and practical, one that aspires to beauty but is grounded in the fundamentals of the world around me. I do not escape from life through the expression of my talents; rather, these talents illuminate and affirm my life.
Through the craft of writing, I have happily discovered that the discipline of art is an organizing principle for me to more fully live life. My writing is a source of inspiration in my every-day life. And, oftentimes, my routine existence provides inspiration for my work.
The process sounds simple, but nothing simple is easy. Life is complex; and I am quite complicated. Writing, and my other artistic endeavours, form my most sincere and ardent attempt to simplify what is basically about me.