Deborah: The Freedom to Jump In
To me, our September theme of Jumping In speaks of actions which are impulsive and carefree. Taking that leap into the unknown with abandon. I wish I could tell you that I jump into my writing. That I just fling myself into a story, and it always works out. But I am not the jump in type. In fact, I never jump in to anything. I am methodical, and I overanalyze everything (my sister can tell you how annoying this habit can be to those who have to listen to me). To me, writing is freedom. So what I do is jump in to ideas for stories. I write down every single idea I have in my computer and save them in different files. I open my mind up to any idea, in any genre. I write realistic fiction. But I have sketched out ideas for fantasy, dystopian, even historical fiction. It doesn’t matter how silly or impossible it is. I still write it down. Then later, I go back and look at it. Analyze it. See if I can build a whole book around it. Most importantly, if I want to build a whole book around it. Because some ideas are simply just great ideas. They are not a book. I give myself the freedom to think of ideas and not execute them. I give myself the freedom to even begin writing two or three chapters, and then make a decision that it isn’t working for me. Because I have to love what I am writing. Really love it. I am a slow writer, partly because I like to live with my ideas for years before I actually begin writing—I dream about them and let them grow in my imagination until the characters become my closest friends. And partly because I am a single mother of two girls (9 and 12), and I work a day job as an attorney. My commitment to writing is fierce, and I have to make time for it at night or on weekends. So it takes me a year (or more) to write a manuscript once I have seized on my story. The way I decide which idea works for me is whether I can see the book unfold in my head. If I can see the beginning, the end, and the most difficult part to write—the middle, then I know it is the one for me. When the characters begin speaking to me, and I can hear their voices, then I move from idea to execution. That’s when the real work begins. I think the freedom to create comes out of jumping in. Don’t be afraid to test different genres, different voices, even different points of view. By giving yourself the freedom to try something, you just might find your best story yet.