Oops. The first link to the Author Spotlight post is no longer working. Here’s a revised one (please try it):
I’ve had the honor of being interviewed by Marni Graff, author, editor, and blogger. She’s a writer whose style and skill I admire, so it means a lot to me that she wanted to ask about my books and my writing habits. You can find the interview (after midnight tonight, the 27th) and learn more for yourself at http://auntiemwrites.com/2018/07/27/robin-minnackthe…authorspotlight/
“Whenever I have endured or accomplished some difficult task — such as watching television, going out socially or sleeping — I always look forward to rewarding myself with the small pleasure of getting back to my typewriter and writing something.”
“I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die.”
“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”
All three of these quotes are from Isaac Asimov, writer of over 500 works in fields as diverse as science fact, science fiction, religion, and mystery. (Hmm, diverse but not unrelated.)
I can relate to all three of these statements, as well as the fact that Asimov was indeed a generalist. If he wanted to write about something, he did.
And that’s the kind of writer I am.
What kind are you? Do any of these quotes describe you and writing?
I initially wrote this about 5 weeks ago. In light of recent developments, I felt pressed to complete and post this personal statement.
I was re-reading the title of my previous post, Never Promise What You Can’t Deliver..., within the context of current headlines and social media. It struck me that that is where America is now. We can’t deliver on any of the promises we have made. Not the ones our Founding Fathers made, not the ones made by our recently past presidents (even ones I was not fond of), not the ones made by our social institutions, our education system, our health care system. None of us can deliver to our children the America whose image we held up to them in the past. We’re foundering. We have promises broken and promises yet unfulfilled. There are NO CURRENT PROMISES WE CAN TRUST that will be helpful to any of us. And although they themselves don’t realize it, they will not even be helpful to the promisers.
In light of calls to action by so many, I had to wonder, what promises am I fulfilling? What am I doing to help? Not as much as I should. And so I recommit, to take the action of putting my talents to use to make this a better country and a better world. In our fears, purposely cultivated to keep our eyes trained on them instead of on finding solutions, we have allowed ourselves to be paralyzed. No more.
We are here (whether by accident or design) to make this a better place for all who inhabit the planet. YES. Check your prejudices – and even your religions – at the door. We Are Here to Make this a BETTER PLACE for ALL. Because if it’s not better for some, it’s not better for anyone, and we will fail. No matter who or what you believe in, even if it’s nothing. Our job is to make this a better place.
That is the promise we need to keep.
Think about it.
Okay, folks, here it is!
From the back cover:
It’s no big deal for Dorsey Wegman to agree to fetch one of Mackenzie Wilder’s new boats. She takes on lots of small jobs for her friends, especially if they can pay well like the Doc. But this one has gone loopy. The boat that was supposed to be ready for the water, isn’t. The boatwright that was supposed to work on the boat is missing. And … “…Doc? There’s a dead woman on board your boat. The police have impounded it, and I can’t leave until they have a handle on what’s going on. They’ll be calling you in about a half hour, they said. Doc, what should I do?” Mackenzie hotfoots it to New York’s North Country and finds herself and Dorsey required to stay and help investigate. Mackenzie’s professionalism soon outweighs the aggravation to local law enforcement as they work together to learn who would bother to kill the lady minister of a tiny church on one of the Thousand Islands. In fact, her skills and attitude reap an instant mutual attraction with sharp, charismatic CGIS Agent Aidan Ghee. And now Mackenzie has three problems. Who killed the woman aboard her boat? What does the Governor asking her to stay and figure this out have to do with the subsequent bodies that turn up – or with Lt. Bryan Jamison’s sudden lack of communication? And is she ready to commit herself for life to Bryan ?
… a brief monologue on the ways that can backfire on you
Besides being a means of offering my excuses for missing deadline once again, this short list enumerates various ways promising something can get you into trouble.
- Most obvious and pertinent: Never put in writing the date your book will be available unless it is on its way to the printer. And not even then. Those of you who are alert will note the ‘update’ of launch info for FLYING PURPLE PEOPLE SEATER. I won’t bother you with excuses; there are some. It will be out soon.
- Never promise you will never do something. A certain editor I know vowed she would never go so far as to cross borders to see a performance she admired; guess where she will be next month? (correct if you said not in her home country)
- Never promise to house-sit or pet-sit when you don’t really know your own plans. (Was that the weekend you scheduled for minor surgery on Friday and were told you’ll be out of it from the pain meds for three days?)
- Never promise you will be there for the birth of a child (except your own, and then not if it is your spouse who is delivering). Do I really need to mention that babies are unpredictable?
- Never promise payback – whether it’s a favor, a visit, a loan, or revenge. Life is also unpredictable.
- Never promise to write an article from a certain slant. You never know when you will discover information – even during an interview with the subject – that will change everything you’re going to write.
- Never promise a friend or a family member that you will name a character after them or, worse, ‘put them in your book’.
- Following from #7 is, never promise (or brag) that you’re going to kill off your mother-in-law (or anyone real in your life) in your book. — We all do it; just don’t say so.
- Never put so many people or things in the plot of your novel that you can’t keep track of them. You’ll have things like boats with gunmen on them vanishing into thin air when they would have been in a position to turn the tide of battle, but you can’t have them there because that’s not how the fight turns out. (yes, that was a thing)
- And never, never, as the saying goes, put a gun on a mantelpiece in a scene unless someone is going to get shot.
That’s a saying that was taught to me by my screenwriting son. It refers to economy and purpose in writing. When you put an object or person into a scene, there’s a reason they are there. There has to be, particularly in any short writing, but even in novels.
Mysteries may be notorious for red herrings and misdirection, but that’s not what you’re doing if you are introducing stuff into scenes and not doing something with them. Ie, there is no reason for a gun on the mantelpiece in a young woman’s apartment, unless there it is going to be used. Maybe it’s self-defense, because she feels stalked. Maybe it’s self-defense, because she feels under siege by law enforcement. Maybe it’s self-defense, because she feels stalked and under siege by an ex-boyfriend. Maybe it just goes off and the bullet strikes her baby. Maybe she’s going to sell it, turn it in, clean it, or use it on the damn cat, but that gun needs to be used somehow. Or it needs to not be there.
Even 600-page novels have a finite number of ideas to convey, in a finite number of words. If you can’t deliver follow-up why something is on the page, if its being there doesn’t serve a purpose later on, don’t promise the reader that it does. Take it out.
Now I’ll go finish my book. No, that was not a promise, but I will.