Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Maryann Miller says looking at mismatched towels triggered thoughts about her writing

Maryann Miller
It all began with a towel...Today we welcome author Maryann Miller as a guest blogger. She has a unique take on things that affect her writing, but Maryann can tell you all about that better than I can. Read on...

We writers have odd twists of mind. Maybe that is why we write, because we need to follow these twists and see where they lead. This is one of my more recent mental journeys.

It started one morning after my shower when I dried off with a towel that is the last of a stack of about 30 towels my uncle gave me and my husband for a wedding present. To put this in context, we celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary this year. These towels were a mismatched assortment, some with flowers, some with geometric designs, and a number of them were plain. But they were all different colors.

For years my more decorative-minded kids laughed at the combination of towels in the bathroom that might include one blue washcloth next to a white one, a yellow hand-towel, and a row of bath towels of wildly clashing colors and designs hanging over the shower bar. Mind you, there were seven of us taking showers when the kids were young and cluttering up our house.
Back to that recent morning. After I was thoroughly dry, I got dressed and realized I was wearing a pair of white warm-up pants that I have had for probably 20 years. Then I walked into the living room and stopped for a moment. The couch and loveseat are at least 30 years old, and since we have lived in this house - 10 years - they have not moved except for cleaning underneath and behind or looking for cat toys that have escaped. After the cleaning, they go right back in the same place.

Then I went to throw a load of laundry in the washer and stopped again for a moment. Our washing machine is almost 40 years old. Of course, of all the old things in this house, including my husband and me, this one will stay if I act on any wild urge to update everything we own. They just don't make washing machines the way they used to and I will hang on to this one until its last gurgle.

By now, I'm sure you've caught on to the fact that I am reluctant to change. So is my husband. We have our things, and our routines, and we like them very much, so it is hard for us to start stirring it all up. Just leave us in our comfort zone.

In thinking about all this as a possible blog topic, I realized that this reluctance to change affects my writing, too. I remember early in my career when a trusted critique partner suggested I change an entire book from first person to third, I almost went into full panic mode. Granted, it was a children's book, so it was only about 200 pages, but still. Change the whole thing?

While my living room might still look the same as it did ten years ago, and I wear clothes I have had forever, I have gotten better about changing what needs to be changed in my writing. I still don't like it. I'd rather start something new than go through that rewriting and editing process, but it is a necessary process. I am a firm believer that a good book isn't just written, it is rewritten.

Three stories about four men

We start off writing whatever first comes to mind, but those little jewels of language that we notice in books, probably did not come the first time out. It behooves us all to take the time to go through a book as many times as it takes until every chapter, every scene, every paragraph, every sentence, and every word is as carefully crafted as we can make it.

Writers, what about you? How easy is it for you to tear into a manuscript and nip and tuck to make it better?

Maryann Miller is a best-selling author of numerous books. Her suspense novel, One Small Victory, was first released in hardback, and is now available as an e-book, paperback, and an audio book. Her young adult novel, Friends Forever, and a short story collection, The Wisdom of Ages, are available as e-books and paperbacks. 

Samantha's husband no longer loves her
A woman's novel, Play It Again, Sam, is  available as an e-book and paperback. The latest release in hardback, Open Season, is the first book in a new mystery series featuring two women homicide detectives in Dallas. The second book in the series, Stalking Season, is under contract and will publish in November 2012. 

Blog:  In the spirit of exchange, Morgan is the guest blogger on IT'S NOT ALL GRAVY today.

Visit Maryann on Facebook:
Twitter:  @maryannwrites

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me here, Morgan, as well as being a guest on my blog. I do hope folks pop over to see what you have to share about writing three-dimensional characters.