Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Post: To Know and To Love by Shannon Hart



To Know and To Love

I’ll be completely honest here, when I found out I was doing a guest post, I was jumping up and down in my room for about five minutes until I realized I didn’t know what to write about. Then, panic started to set in.

I knew I had a bit of time, but still, my mind was racing searching through corners of my brain to find a so-called brilliant topic to write about, something that would blow readers’ minds away. I went to my dear friend Samantha, asking her if she could give me some tips as well and she came up with much better ideas than I had, of course, but then I realized why those ideas were so good: they were about things I knew well.

I don’t know about other writers, but for me, before I wrote Until the End of Forever, I was hopping from genre to genre, looking for my niche. There was this phase that I had where I was writing children’s stories but then I would always start one, get stuck, and stop. Then, I went on to writing Young Adult stories. Short stories were fine, but when it came down to trying to write a whole 70,000 words novel, I couldn’t get past chapter 16! The voices sounded young, the characters were dynamic and exciting, but the issues were issues that I wasn’t sure today’s youth would get. I had to finally admit that I wasn’t young anymore (and cry about that for a few hours), and that I wasn’t that in sync with what the young one’s were dealing with these days. And being a mom to two toddlers didn’t really help either. The problems they were dealing with were more about what to watch and what to play than anything else. I kept all the chapters, but I haven’t touched them again since – and probably won’t until I get to actually spend time with real young adults and understand what matters to them most these days.

Then, on one magical night… Scratch that. Sounded way too corny. One evening, when I was feeling a bit of pressure on my own marriage because of some silly fight we had (I don’t even remember what it was about anymore but it was probably ridiculously lame), I decided I knew exactly what I should have been writing about all along: marriage. Not necessarily about my own marriage, but seeing as that I had been married for quite sometime, and since I was (and still am) a member of a married couples group, the amount of knowledge I had about marital issues exceeded the knowledge I had about almost anything else. When I started writing about my main characters’ – Rob and Sarah – relationship, I started with just background notes scribbled on an old notebook listing who they were, what they were like and how their personalities could potentially end up in conflict and from there, everything was smooth sailing right down to the end.

I developed a personal relationship with all my characters. Call me crazy or whatever (my husband certainly thought I was, he just never said it out loud), but at times, I felt like I was watching the two of them in a movie in my head. I watched how Rob and Sarah met, their wedding, and even their magical wedding night – though that part didn’t actually make the cut and ended up being edited out.

My point is (yes, there is a point here, I promise), when you write what you know, you’ll love your work even more because that’s what you’re passionate about. That sense of satisfaction when you read the final copy before it goes to print is just so overwhelming because you know what you’ve written is something so close to your heart.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with challenging your abilities and writing out of your comfort zone either. This is great for those who can power through the difficulties and just do it. If you can, by all means, go for it! But for other writers, who know they have a voice but just can’t seem to get it together that first time around, I say (humbly), go back to the drawing board and start putting together things that you know; things you love; things you care about. It just makes it a heck of a lot easier. Not to say that writing should be easy, of course, but it builds your confidence and that’s important because at the end of the day, you have to love what you have written. And don’t worry about bad reviews because you know what, everything is so subjective. Everything they say about your story is just a matter of opinion so even though some may not like it, others will. Don’t think about how what you write has already been written before because hey, is there really anything new in this world? The issues are all still the same. It’s just a matter of packaging it differently and adding twists to it. Personally, and I emphasize here that this opinion really is personal, if writing is truly your passion, then you’re writing for you, not for anyone else. So really, what matters is what you love.

A very special thank you goes to Michelle Bell for welcoming me on her wonderful blog and giving me this opportunity to post, and to Samantha Robey, my friend, my editor and my kick-ass blog tour coordinator who is nothing short of a miracle worker. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’re the best!

Thank you so much, Shannon, for such a delightful guest post and I'm so honored to have hosted you on my blog during your blog tour!

Come say hello to Shannon at the following places: website, blog, or twitter.

For something totally fun, if you leave a comment on Shannon's tour page, you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

1 comment:

Samantha said...

Shannon brings up some excellent points that probably all writers go through- I know I did!

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