Monday’s Classroom: Following the thought, the character is everything, point of view, own it . . .

Oh I miss this cup that I broke one sad morning.

Morning Y’all!

“I often think that the best writing is done after you’ve forgotten what you wanted to say, but end up putting something down anyway just as though it were the actual evidence of your original intention.”—Clarence Major

This has happened to me. When I sat down to write, the idea would not come, the original thought stalled. The words stuck. But if I keep writing, put down the words that do come, soon something else emerges, something that does work and that I can be excited about.

I follow the new thought without letting the original thought tie me to a post, simple (and as complicated) as that.

Sometimes our mind is changed before even we know it needs to be changed. There are many times when we must follow where we are led. What a journey! This is living, folks. This is writing. This is manipulating the language and words without constant constraint—ah.

The use of point of view is to bring the reader into immediate and continuous contact with the heart of the story and sustain him there.”—Tom Jenks

Your reader will see, feel/experience, and be through the “eyes” of the character who speaks. To me, the characters are not just the heart of the story—they ARE the story; although for me, the setting is so important it is also “character.”

A bit about Point of View: think of a camera and the person in control of that camera. When I have the camera, I am the controller of that camera lens. I see and interpret through the lens and then I take snapshots so that others may see, or experience, what I have—this is the point of view “first person: I” experience. Until I explain it or show the image I have captured, no one can know what I am thinking or feeling. I show them. I tell them.

If I hand the camera to George, he then sees everything through his own eyes/interpretations—this is “third person-limited: George/he” point of view. I can’t know what he sees and what he is thinking, what has captured his imagination/interest, until he relays it to me by showing me the photo, or telling me about it—and through both the showing and the telling, I see and experience through his eyes/experience.

(painting by Lorelle Bacon)

Or, consider you are painting a portrait—you are in control of the paintbrush and what appears on the page as you interpret the model before you. You do not know what your subject is thinking—you cannot read her mind—but you can guess by her movements, her facial expressions, her body language, what “props” she may have, or, if she speaks, by tone of voice or by words or both.

It is about who controls the paintbrush or the camera, then showing and telling what is captured/experienced so others may experience it as well.

Surely the test of a novel’s characters is that you feel a strong interest in them and their affairs,—the good to be successful, the bad to suffer failure.”—Mark Twain

If you are not interested in your characters and what they do and say and are, why should anyone else be? If you do not believe in your work, why should anyone else?—believe me, it will show. The reader always knows.

Give readers your best. Give them the truths—and this word “truth” sometimes means more than what may first appear to you. Writing what you know doesn’t have to be so literal, so concrete, for we can interpret it in as many ways as we allow ourselves to, as long as we speak a truth at the kernel of it, or even the whole of it.

“….You start out putting words down and there are three things—you, the pen, and the page. Then gradually the three things merge until they are one and you feel about the page as you do about your arm. Only you love it more than you love your arm.”—John Steinbeck.

This quote resonates with me more than people may know. I’ve sacrificed family, friends, time “out in the world,” and ignored the dust and disorder about my little log house here at Killian knob, all for this thing I do. All without knowing how it will turn out for me and for my words and characters. The writing, the language, is everything. The love of my life, and oh, writing that phrase feels both exciting and sad. But to give it up means a death, something rotting away from the inside out. I will sacrifice those things, and more, to do this thing I love. I don’t give up because I have fought so hard to do this thing I love.

There are those times when the world as we know it goes away and our own inner world takes over, and soon the words come and the characters speak and the story or essay forms and there is nothing else but this world, this place, this feeling we as writers are creating. Hours pass and at last we lift our heads and—wait! It can’t be three o’clock; just a moment ago it was eleven o’clock. We have been to other-worlds, alternate universes, going gone, and the coming back is surreal—at times seemingly less real than the created world we’ve just come back from.

Not every writer loves his craft, and that is something I do not understand, but yet I respect each writer’s experience. Not every writer enjoys manipulating the language. Not every writer (and I doubt any of them, including me) is deliriously happy every time they sit down to work—especially when it comes to the umpteenth round of revisions revisions revisions and more revisions.

Well, if you do not always love it, so what? If you want to write, then write. Write what excites you and motivates you and makes you happy—be that a novel, a short story, essay, a blog, letters, family memoirs, journals, technical papers, recipes.

Find your comfortable space, or challenge that comfy spot if you want to. Consider just why you do this thing you do, whatever it is you want to do. It is Yours. It is This Thing You Do. Yours. Even when you push it out into the world, strange and surreal and terrrible and exciting birth, it is still Your Work. Be proud of it.

Own it.

Have any quotes you relate to or can relate your writing life to?

(and Rose & Thorn Journal is now live – links below! We appreciate your support, as do our authors, poets, artist!)


10 thoughts on “Monday’s Classroom: Following the thought, the character is everything, point of view, own it . . .

  1. Aw, poor mug!

    Love the post.

    I cannot imagine not loving writing. The picture of the girl on the porch brought my present POV straight into my head! She sits on a rock just like that, soulful and sad.

    My life’s blood flows through my work, I cannot cut the cord just yet, but it is coming!

    • I about cried when I broke that mug! GMR had it for years, and then I adopted it – drank my coffee out of every morning – until that morning it broke in half *SOB* – and I’ve never seen another one like it . . .

      That painting – let me tell you the story behind it. I never “see” my characters -it’s as if they are far away and blurry or undefined or whatever – shadowy – so I did not know really exactly what virginia kate looked like, or looks like. So, I was in Woolworth Walk in Asheville and as I passed that painting, I stopped! Omg! That’s Virginia Kate when she was young – that dreamy expression, the feet bared to the WVA soil, the diary, the pencil, the red of the shawl like Momma’s scarf, the little white house, a porch – and when I found the painting was half off, I bought it on the spot – it hangs in my living room.

      I used to stare at that painting, and along with the music “Lionheart” by Angels of Venice (celtic bluegrassy music, link below ), I’d say “we can do it Virginia Kate; we can do it!” and one day we did. >>> the music that inspired me while writing a certain scene, and while waiting for someone to take VK

  2. Oh, what a beautiful post!

    We have been to other-worlds, alternate universes, going gone, and the coming back is surreal—at times seemingly less real than the created world we’ve just come back from.

    I started to say that’s something only another writer relates to, but it’s not. When we write well, our readers travel to that place too.

  3. When it comes to writing fiction, I can’t imagine writing something I don’t love. On the other hand, I’ve written three non-fiction books on subjects I didn’t “love” but did find very interesting.

    Really like your cup. So sorry it broke. I have a favorite, too.

    • I used to write articles for a local publication – which I thought I’d enjoy, but I didn’t, for the writing is so different and felt so constrained compared to my fiction writing. I still loved “the process” but not as much as with fiction. ALthough, when I did restaurant reviews, I did love writing those!

  4. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about the mug. I had a favorite that one of my kids dropped last week. It will never be the same (the handle broke right off).

    I love writing, but sometimes I have to switch things up a bit to remember that love (like where I write/when I write…things like that). ;)

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