I’ve always loved telling stories. My favorite is the one where I sent the wrong letter to the right missionary. We were married the next summer. I attended LDS Business College where I earned an Associate’s in Computer Technology and Brigham Young University where I should have majored in English. I live in a small town nestled in the heart of the Appalachians. When I’m not busy writing, I can be found baking cookies, going to the movies, helping with the homework or catching fireflies with my handsome husband and four adorable children.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I'm really just an actress
When I was a kid, I loved to act and sing. I was in the community theater's musical almost every year from kindergarten on. From Sound of Music, to Fiddler on the Roof, to Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat--I danced and sang my way through my childhood. And I loved it. The acting part. I thrived off the energy from the audience. It was an outlet that I really needed and still feel like is a big part of who I am.
So do you remember when I said that I'd tried to give Cole a story a while back? (I promise this is relevant to the previous paragraph-keep reading) Remember how I tried nine times, wrote over a thousand pages of blah and finally realized it just wasn't going to happen for him? Maybe you don't, but I do. Talk about discouragement. I was actually beginning to doubt myself as a writer, beginning to think that Emily's story was a one time thing, that maybe I only had one good story in me.
I was soooo wrong.
Here's a secret I've learned about writing. It's a lot like acting. You have to feel your character's joy, pain, sadness, frustration, etc. It would be hard to act a certain emotion if you've never felt that emotion. Likewise, it's hard to write through the eyes of a character who just got her heart broken by the boy of her dreams if you've never been crushed in that way.
I'm starting to wander so let me get back on track. I'm finally seeing a good use for all the frustration and heart ache I experienced as a teenager. You'll see it in my writing WHEN my books get published. Do you know why Stephenie Meyer could write Bella so well? Because Bella is a part of Stephenie. Ender is a part of Orson Scott Card. Anne is a part (or was) of L.M. Montgomery. These characters are a part of their creators. Those authors have felt most of what their characters are feeling, or at least something close to it.
When I wrote a story about a girl who got raped, a couple of my friends pulled me aside privately after reading it and said, "Susan, were you raped? You nailed the emotions so perfectly."
That was seriously the biggest compliment they could have given me. No, I haven't been raped, but I do know what it's like to keep a secret. (As I think many teenagers do) I do know what it's like to have my heart broken. To have my life completely shattered and then have to put it back together. My point is, that to write a good story you have to delve into the life of that character. Emily is me and I am her.
Now I'm writing about Sarah. At first it was good but not great. I had to back track and revamp what I'd written. I had to put myself and my heart into her character. Now she's great and spectacular and wonderful.
I do have other stories to tell, but I'm learning that sometimes I have to stumble around until I figure them out. Not every story is going to work. But I won't quit. Because they're there.