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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Stories and the Mind

I have many traditional books on writing (regarding plot, dialogue, outlining, etc.), as well as those by authors written to encourage creativity, however, one of my favorite recent books is Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. It's fabulous!

Rather than being a step-by-step guide to writing, Cron takes us inside the way our minds understand story, and I'm finding it quite inspirational since I'm into the editing process for my latest manuscript. Cron refers often to the work of Steven Pinker and Antonio Damasio, but presents it in the form of how to write a great story. She begins each chapter with a meme showing the "Cognitive Secret" followed by the "Story Secret," and I'll be copying some of those and posting them on my wall, for sure.

This reflective approach to how we understand stories is a relatively recent passion of mine. I also wrote about this perspective, coming from the fairytale angle, in "Writing for Shimmer."

Writing is an ongoing learning process for me, one that I thoroughly enjoy. When I began writing my first novel back in the early 90s, I thought it would be easy because I was an avid reader, especially in the genre that I chose to write. And it went pretty well, I think (even though that particular manuscript is stuck in a drawer and never made it to the self-publishing stage). What I learned, however, as do many people who think it should be easy to write -- after all, I'd read thousands of books by the time I was in my 30s -- was that I didn't fully understand the nuance of flow or the structure of story (along with much more).

What keeps me returning to the writing path is the pure delight I feel when my thoughts and imagination are transferred to a form that I can share with others. Plus, I like the result, I like my own writing. But then, I'm a reader with broad, eclectic taste in fiction and non-fiction, including a lot of self-published books that don't make it into the mainstream. In many ways, this enchantment I feel toward reading and writing across a wide spectrum returns to how I perceive more through essence than detail or structure. And, while the latter is necessary and gratifying, the former is where the well of my creativity emerges these days.

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