Writer Vs. Person

I’ve always had a fear of sharing my writing with others.  As I’ve found, this is a fear shared by most creative people when putting forth their works into the world.  You pour your heart and soul into a physical, tangible thing, and suddenly there is nothing left to hide behind.

I’ve talked before about how a part of myself is imprinted in every character, setting, and subject in my writing.  So when I’m in a dark place in my life, my stories will take on a darker theme, and the same can be said when I’m doing well.

But what makes me hesitate sharing my work with close family or friends, is that I don’t want them to read too much of me into my writing.  Which is an utter contradiction to the fact that I admitted to pouring my heart and soul into my writing.   Bear with me!

I want to be able to bring my own experiences and thoughts into my work.  For better or worse it can take quite a dark turn.  And that bitterness is what I will write about.  However, in expressing myself in that way, it will be the only side of me people are seeing.  A mere hand full of puzzle pieces in a 1,000 piece puzzle.

That is definitely not my goal in imparting myself into my writing.  I almost feel like I need a disclaimer before sharing with my friends and family.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, and themes expressed in this writing, are not necessarily a lens in which to view the writer.  Please keep in mind, there is a difference between Aly the writer and Aly the person.

And yet, I sometimes feel that it’s almost an insult to try to separate my personal self from my writer self.  Because in reality, there is nothing to separate. They are one and the same.  I am writer, hear me roar!

I guess it’s just a matter of trying to explain and find common ground with those close to me, who don’t understand the whole ‘writing thing’ that I do.  Out of my family, I am the only creative type.  My brothers and my parents are more logical and realistic.  The majority of my friends are that way as well.  It’s hard for them to understand the nuances of me in my writing, but I won’t hold it against them.

It’s the few friends, and many friendly bloggers I know, that encourage me to continue being my creative self.

Do you guys distinguish between a writer vs personal self?  Do you think it’s bad  to try to separate/downplay a side of you that close friends or family don’t understand?


And Down Goes My Sinking Heart

As some of you may have noticed I haven’t posted much of my fiction lately, which is mostly due to me throwing myself headlong into a new novel concept. I’ve been so excited that I haven’t even talked about it to anyone!

The premise is that a daughter and her recently divorced mom move from Nebraska to Otter Rock, a small, unincorporated community on the Oregon Coast.  They buy and start to run a Bed and Breakfast there, in hopes of starting fresh.  It explores coming to terms with your past, and who you’ve become, as well as the intricacies of relationships, especially between a mother and daughter.  The oceanic setting weighs heavily within the book.  Tentatively titled “We Are The Tide”.

I was just browsing books on my kindle and came across an upcoming book that’s on pre-order called The Inn of Rose Harbor.  Here’s what the description says:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber comes a heartwarming new series based in the Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove, where a charming cast of characters finds love, forgiveness, and renewal behind the doors of the cozy Rose Harbor Inn.

Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a sense of peace and a fresh start.  Coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast- the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn-ready to begin her life anew.  Yet the inn holds more surprises than Jo Marie can imagine…

There is more to the description on amazon, so I know our novels start to differ quite a bit after that. So I guess it is a bit comforting knowing that only the beginnings are similar.  Still, I had this moment of woe, and if my boyfriend wasn’t sleeping I’m sure I would have cried out, “SAY IT AIN’T SO!!!”

They’re both set in a small Pacific Northwest town on the coast, and a woman buys a B&B to try to get over her former husband, and start afresh.

I realize there are plenty of similar genre-books out there, and things like this just can’t be helped.  Characters, writing style, and the mood of the books will always be different and unique to the writer.  But it’s still so disheartening to see it for the first time when you’re completely gung-ho about the new project.

But you know what? I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.  I’m confidant in our differences, and if my gut tells me to write a story, then you can bet I’m going to damn well write that story!  I won’t even touch that other book until I finish my novel.  I would hate to see it influence me, or dissuade me from certain elements in my writing.

So tell me, have you guys ever encountered an eerily similar idea to yours?  How did you handle it, and did you end up tweaking your idea to differentiate yours?


Why the Discovery Channel is My New Best Friend

I’ve always had a love affair with documentaries and informative tv shows.  I blame watching all the Bill Nye the Science Guy videos for 5th grade science class.  But, I digress, this love probably would have happened anyways.  Thank heavens for the History Channel and Discovery Channel right?

Now I know many of those shows can’t be classified as real documentaries and many are over dramatized, but I assure you, that’s a good thing.

My boyfriend has recently started a Netflix binge, religiously watching such shows as Mythbusters and Man vs. Wild.  During an episode of Man vs. Wild Bear Grylls had to ‘survive’ and escape a completely abandoned city.  Within the first five minutes it immediately struck me that if I were to ever write a post apocalyptic story, I’d definitely re-watch that episode.

I had always liked the idea of watching well made documentaries as resources/inspiration for writing.  However, it had never actually occurred to me to watch these dramatized, over the top, shock-factor shows.

I started browsing what TV shows Netflix had from the Discovery Channel, and I can safely say, if you need to delve into a topic you don’t know much about, for the first time I’d recommend turning on the TV.

Are you writing about a story that in any way has a scene about surviving in the wilderness a la Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, indigenous peoples way of survival, even hardcore camping, try Man vs Wild or Survivor Man.  Are there two people in this situation? Man Woman Wild or Dual Survival.  Is it a group? Out of the Wild, Alaska Experiment.  You can even use that last for tidbits of useful information if you’re writing an Ice Age era story.

Are you writing about ancient/indigenous cultures and you need to add depth with a medicine man?  Try Medicine Men Go Wild.

Is the protagonist a fisherman, and you’re writing about tales on the sea? Go for Lobstermen or Deadliest Catch.

Are you writing a thriller about a detective chasing down a madwoman on a killing spree? Watch Deadly Women.

Or perhaps your character is caught in a huge storm that rampages across his rural town and he has to pick up the pieces.  Experience a storm for wild descriptions with Storm Chasers.

Even Mythbusters can help, if you look for specific episodes relating to what you are writing about.  There’s an episode about surviving being buried alive, an entire episode devoted to pirates, they explore many, many ways to break out of jail, and a whole lot more!

Branching out of the Discovery Channel, try the Food Network if your character is chef or baker, or TLC for some Cake Boss.  The first few episodes can be informative when Buddy explains what a lot of the terms mean to viewers who otherwise would not have known.  You could watch Pawn Stars on the History Channel that showcase a lot of very old, very neat items.  I was surprised at how much history the pawn stars know and how informative this one is.

So, my point for this article?  If you need more information about a topic, don’t be afraid to turn on the TV!  Are they over dramatized and sometimes scripted? Yes.  Are they sometimes cheesy and over done? Yes.  Do they have enough kernels of information to help you? Most definitely YES!

Don’t be afraid to use these for inspiration in your writing.  Even if you only get one tidbit of detail per episode, it will add so much more depth to your story. And hey, maybe you’ll be able to teach your readers a thing or two about how to survive if they got lost while hiking.

NOTE:  If you don’t have cable or satellite, like me, most of the shows mentioned are on Netflix, but you can also find various episodes/information about the shows online.  Also, considering the nature of the shows, and their educational/interest value, try your local library, if not specifically ones I’ve mentioned, they’ll at least have very good-actual- documentaries to check out.

Also, I haven’t watched all the shows I mentioned(most, but not all), they’re just here to be helpful suggestions.   Have any shows that have been useful for you?  Help your fellow writers out and post them in the comments section!

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