Dec 28

Looking forward by looking back

Old writing . . . really old!

With the holidays and final exams behind me, I’m allowing myself to fully enjoy this lull and to celebrate all the good things that happened in 2012. And among those many good things: finding my fiction-writing “voice” again. I’ve always loved reading novels and short stories, but for me, publication and payment came from nonfiction writing assignments — so I’d read the one and write the other. And until I had this opportunity to take a speculative fiction class, I didn’t take fiction-writing urges too seriously.

I think I figured out why.

Fear of doing something that might be emotionally revealing.
Fear that it would expose a part of me that would want more than it could have (instead I found abundance).
Fear that my writing would be dark (it sometimes is).

But I wrote through all those fears for a rather shallow reason — my grades! I didn’t want to do badly in the class. I should stress that writing ability was not the criteria for our grade — doing the assigned work, turning it in on time, and participating in the class workshops were what formed the basis for our grades. Halfway through the semester I figured out why I disliked the writing exercises so much: they felt dangerous. And I rather liked the safety of my emotional boundaries. But I’d begin each one by telling myself to just work through each step:

Consider it, think about it.
Engage in it (always pen and paper to start – I can’t compose fiction at the computer).
Begin to write freely, without judgment, or editing.

The process would repeat itself twice a week. I never really learned to look forward to it, but I was always rewarded with something unexpected. And now I have a three-ring binder full of the unexpected.

So for 2013, I’ll have a “theme” — if you’ve been reading me a while, you know I don’t do resolutions. The theme is germinating — I just need to find the one word that encapsulates what I want out of 2013.



  1. athena says:

    Like! 🙂

  2. Kristen says:

    Happy New Year! I hope 2013 brings many wonderful things for you. 🙂

  3. Stacey says:

    I am so excited for you! I hope you found the theme you were looking for. 🙂

  4. Soknitpicky says:

    Germinating is a good word in and of itself, but I’m excited to learn what word you chose.

    Kudos for overcoming your fears enough to write beautiful work. I know there are good things ahead!

  5. Brenda says:

    Congratulations on finding the courage to write stories! I would like to learn how to write fiction. I can write scenes, but I’ve never been able to put a story together. Considering I read so much, I find that kind of weird. Anyway, I read about a guy who had the same problem, so he took some well-written short stories and outlined every paragraph as to plot, characterization, etc. After 3 or 4 stories he got it, and now he’s a professional writer. I’m thinking of doing that, but I have some earlier goals to get done first.

    Looking forward to the word you choose!

    • Janet says:

      Thank you, Brenda!

      Like you, I can write scenes with no problem, but it helped when I was faced with an assigned word count — very motivating. Begin with the end in mind! I had to know what my character wanted and how he/she would change or be transformed by something that happened.

      A writing notebook or journal is a good way to capture thoughts, phrases, ideas — even if you end up using a tiny portion of writing based on the contents, you never know how you might plumb the depths later. I’ve found that I mostly use my iPhone’s “Notes” app — I’m more likely to have my phone on me than a pen and paper. When I get a substantial amount of notes, I send them to Evernote.

Reply to Soknitpicky

Leave a Reply to Soknitpicky Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *