Monthly Archives: July 2012

The responsible storyteller…

“You are not only responsible for what you say, but what you do not say. Martin Luther.

For me writing started out as a feel-good hobby. I started with Facebook. Posting, by the hour, on my wall. My friends laughed, they cried, they were entertained. People I respected suggested I start a blog. A parenting blog was born. I couldn’t believe the number of visits.

A friend came back into my life. With her, she brought a passion for storytelling, and a determination to call herself a writer. I opened my mind to the idea of becoming a writer myself. To use my English degree, as opposed to the sociology degree that paid the bills. She told me about her dream project, her dream novel. A story she needed to tell. She showed me an excerpt. I immediately jumped into her business with both feet, and one big mouth.

“You have a responsibility to tell that story. You have to, because the world deserves to hear it. You have a first-person perspective. Experience. You can write. If you fail, you’re failing all of us. ” Heavy. Very heavy. I walked away from that conversation feeling very guilty, and very opinionated.

National Novel Writing Month came along in November 2011, http://nanowrimo.org  My writer friend encouraged me to participate. By then, I’d turned my writing hobby into something of a freelance writing career; although I still hesitated to call myself a writer. I sat down to write 50,000 words about some nonsensical thing for NaNoWriMo. I hardly remember what I had planned to write, because all of a sudden my fingers were flying across the keyboard, and the story I was meant to tell came pouring out.

I come from a family of first-responders. My father is a retired volunteer fire chief, with over 30 years service. My brother is an EMT, turned professional firefighter. My mother is a registered nurse. From them I absorbed 25 years of stories about blood, guts, trauma, fire, adrenalin, property loss, death, injury, and life. For my part, I sent hundreds of prayers for their protection, and prayers of gratitude, for their safe return skyward. Timothy P. Schmaltz, artist

As my fingers struck the keyboard in November I accepted my responsibility to tell their story. Because the world deserves to hear it, because I have an odd sort of insider perspective, and experience. If I fail, I won’t be failing just myself, but the first-responders I respect so much. Heavy. Very heavy. Do I feel the weight of the guilt? Yes. Do I have the guts to give their story a voice? Yes. So, I interview cops, medics, firefighters, and arson investigators, I research, I write, I re-write, I edit. Almost a year later, I’m still at it. When I put their story away guilt eats at me – I haven’t finished what I started.

The book itself isn’t particularly deep, and dark. It’s a commercial mystery; appealing to many types of readers. Sometimes, when I revisit humorous passages, I still laugh out loud. There’s a chance only my family will read it. But that isn’t the point. The point is, there is a story to be told. I am a storyteller. Therefore, quite simply, I have a responsibility to tell this tale.

Back cover summary, Nine Ladies Dancing, first novel in the series Duty Calls, by Vicki L Morrison

Captain Derek Young is a professional firefighter learning to cope with the death of his wife while tracking down an escalating arsonist. He, and fellow members of the Arson Strike Team, Detective Rachael Chambers, and Arson Investigator Annika Slader must use every tool and skill at their disposal to catch the fire starter before someone is critically injured, or dies a horrific death. With one of their own members constantly sabotaging their efforts they have little hope of success. As Derek resurrects his personal life from the ashes will he be able to keep the AST from exploding in a ball of flames?

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On motivation, goals, and writing…

Yesterday, we took our kids to hear Adventurer Ray Zahab. He’s a motivational speaker. I thought I needed motivation to finish my novel. The kids were an excuse to go. As expected, his presentation was inspiring. The goals he’s reached and surpassed, and the sheer determination of the man are somewhat overwhelming. And truthfully, almost unbelievable.

When he finished speaking our son asked him a question.

“How do you stay focused on a goal? Especially if the goal is far in the future.”

The answer was simplistic. No bullshit. Zahab looked him directly in the eyes, and said, “Take all of the negative comments, all of the doubts you might have, and use them to fuel your fire. Turn all of the negatives into positives. Find your passion, and go for it.”  He expanded on the idea, and offered sincere words of encouragement, but it was that simple.

When I sit at my computer to write, negative internal voices come at me from all directions. I hear, you don’t have a journalism degree, writers make no money, and getting published is impossible. Even six months ago those voices would have drowned out any positive thoughts, or good intentions I had. I’ve been working on that. I’ve been on a quest to discover how to turn those voices off. The solution seems to be as simple as do it for yourself, not anybody else. In other words, I’ve reached a point where my motivation is being drawn from my passion to create, instead of my need to exceed other people’s expectations of me.

So, I’m taking negatives, and turning them into positives, and I’m going to rely on my internal motivation to reach my goals. And that, my friends, is how I plan to finish the novel I almost didn’t even start. A novel. Almost unbelievable, isn’t it?

http://impossible2Possible.com

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