Wednesday, February 15, 2017

EIGHT THINGS WRITERS AREN'T


By E.E. Kennedy

Ever since I began writing in earnest, I have from time to time encountered people who have a mistaken impression of what an author/writer is like. I am here today to dispel these misunderstandings. Prepare to have your illusions shattered!

1)      We’re NOT amateur sleuths. I blame Murder She Wrote. In this show, mystery writer Jessica Fletcher tools around on her bicycle, tripping over corpses and unveiling villains. The most puzzling mystery I’ve solved lately is: The Puzzle of the Little Black Marks on All Our Light-Colored Clothes. (Spoiler: The culprit was our ancient Maytag dryer, on its last legs. We bought a new one.)

2)      We’re not rich. The word sounds pretty grand, doesn’t it? “Royalties.” So regal. So inaccurate. Whenever someone asks if I make a lot of money from my books, I respond simply: “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.” But then, how could you know if you don’t ask? Yes, there are people who actually make a living writing books. I even know a few. They work darn hard, let me tell you. They deserve every penny. The truth is, there are literally (see what I did there?) millions of books on the market at any given time. It’s awfully hard to get your name before the public.


Dame Agatha Christie

3)      We’re not geniuses. Some of us are gifted, it’s true. Most of us just love books, love the language and love a good story. And we do what we love. I happen to have a lifelong devotion to the books of Agatha Christie. I have tried to emulate her style. The jury is still out on whether I’ve succeeded, but I can’t imagine myself writing anything else. (A science fiction story, for example, set in the future. Or a fantasy, with unicorns. That requires imagination above my pay grade. I prefer abiding by the timeless rules of terra firma.)

4)      Not all of us have been writing all our lives. How I wish I had been! Years ago, when I was in college, a professor encouraged me to write more, but I was so self-conscious about putting my thoughts on a page for just anybody to read, I demurred and majored in history instead. I did find myself writing commercials after graduation. I joked that I only had a sixty-second attention span. Now, I’m so old, I don’t care what people think of my thoughts!

5)      We’re not particularly glamorous. (See #2) As a group, I find writers to be about as un-glamorous a tribe as anybody out there. I think it’s because so many of us live in our heads, so to speak. Turning out three chapter in a day doesn’t require that we have freshly-applied lipstick or freshly-shaven chins (in the case of men--mostly). I do try, though. I endeavor never to be seen without eyeliner. It’s a thing with me. Otherwise I look like Buster Keaton’s sister. (Look him up. You’ll laugh.)

6)      Not all of us are misunderstood, miserable people with perpetual angst. To be sure, some of us are, but the nearly all writers I know have families, pets and friends and are what might be loosely termed “normal.” I’m not sure one must suffer to be an artiste. But one must have lived—that’s a given. One of the reasons I didn’t like what I wrote as a callow college student was certainly because I hadn’t gained the maturity and perspective that comes after a few years. And the kindness. I wasn’t a particularly kind kid. I like to think I’ve improved with age.

7)      We don’t knock off every day at five. We’re thinking of our stories pretty much all the time. A story idea could come to a person anywhere, as it did for me while I was babysitting my three grandsons. They were playing on the contained playground at the local Chic-fil-A and I was scribbling notes on the plot twist in Murder in the Past Tense, all the while keeping one eye peeled, just in case they started to kill each other. I have read that Agatha Christie (my idol) was inspired to write The Boomerang Clue  when she heard someone on the street say casually, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” The resulting story was brilliant. I have even awakened from a deep sleep, still thinking in dialogue.

The aforementioned grandsons
8)      We’re not all great at grammar, spelling and punctuation. Nope. I try my best, but I slip occasionally, as my editor quickly points out. To my shame, my first book was chock-full of terrible mistakes, particularly involving commas, colons and quotation marks. Only with practice have I improved. Here’s another state secret: in school, I was utterly terrible at diagramming sentences! I still can make head nor tail of those dizzying charts!

9)      BONUS:  As for the Suspense Sisters, here’s what we ARE! We’re a group of mystery/thriller writers whose base is the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Our faith touches our work and, we hope, touches you—the reader—as well.

What assumptions do you have about writers? Do you think they’re accurate?

Please comment below (including your email address). I’ll try to respond in an accurate and perhaps humorous manner and your name will be tossed in a hat, with a chance to win an e-book copy of my latest mystery, Incomplete Sentence!
____

E.E. Kennedy’s website is missprenticecozymystery.com
She is also the author of TEXAS FIRES, a Christian romance novella in the anthology, ROAD TO DANGER.

This is where you’ll find sample chapters from all her mysteries:

Irregardless of Murder

Death Dangles a Participle

Murder in the Past Tense

Incomplete Sentence

21 comments:

  1. Ellen--well-said...especially the part about writers not being rich as a rule. I've heard becoming a writer referred to as "taking a vow of poverty." Write on, friend.

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  2. I like that one, Richard! We're all a variety of monks! LOL

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  3. This is GREAT! And very well written. Thank you. :) And I LOVE your books, and have all of them (don't need to win one :) )...they take me to another "place" I'd almost forgotten.

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    1. Mary, if you win, I could send a book to whomever you designate!

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  4. Since I've not finished my first novel, I can confirm that this writer is not rich. At least not monetarily. However, I have a rich relationship with Jesus which is infinitely more valuable. Thank you, Ellen, for this humorous and accurate description of most writers. God bless you.

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    1. Thank you, Bruce. That means a lot coming from a fellow writer. Yes, I agree, that a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing of all.
      God bless you, brother.
      (PS. Could you add your email address so we can put you in the drawing?)

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  5. Thank you, E. E. Kennedy. Enjoyed your article. Thank you, Nancy Edwards Darby, for posting it to the RW Facebook page.

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    1. Thank you, Thele! (And I add my thanks to Nancy E. Darby, too!)
      (PS. Thele, would you give us your email address so I can put your name in the hat for the free ebook?)

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  6. I would make the assumption that writers need to be good with grammar. I would imagine this is not always true. I love your titles.
    betsylu2@msn.com

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    1. Thanks for the compliment, Beth. I've had fun coming up with titles relating to an English teacher.

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  7. I would add that the writers that I regularly comment with have become my friends--- they are very nice and welcoming. Those include Richard Mabry, Patricia Bradley, Ann Gabhart and Susan Sundin. I'm sure that's because they are gracious people but also they are part of God's forever family , so I'm a sister in Christ. See you guys are exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit!
    e.e. You are very funny. I would enjoy your books, unfortunately I usually get my books from the library and mine doesn't have yours. I'll try to remedy that.
    Fondly, Paula. paulams49(AT)sbcglobal(DOT)net

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    1. You named some fine writers, Paula! I hope your library can find my books. They are only available thru Amazon, christianbook.com, and the Sheaf House Website.

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  8. Good morning Ellen and thanks for a fun post. I met several authors during my years working as a public librarian and I can verify that they weren't rich because they all had other jobs and they were "normal" people who loved sharing family stories and pictures of their children and grandchildren. They also had a joy of words and they wanted others to experience that through their books. I wish you continued joy and success!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Connie. Librarians are wonderful people!

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  9. Loved your post, especially #4. I too needed the maturity that comes with having a few years under the belt before I could write anything of interest. mhamilton122@yahoo.com

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    1. I'm still working on the maturity thing--and I'm pretty old already! LOL

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  10. I loved your post, Ellen! I enjoyed reading it. I do know that authors aren't "rich" just by hanging out with Joan. I didn't want to admit it but I loved diagramming sentences in school!I was the best one in the class~! They came so easy for me. I loved the photo of your grandsons. By the way, I have never read an Agatha Christie book! Bev duellonlysis(at)aol(dot)coom

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    1. I highly recommend Agatha Christie books, Bev. It's important to remember that they were mostly written in another era and allow for the differences. I especially liked THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD and SLEEPING MURDER. One is romantic suspense and the other is the classic village cozy mystery.

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  11. Very interesting post! I used to assume that all writers always find writing to be easy, but have recently found out that is far from true.
    Martha T.
    CRPrairie1(@)imonmaildotcom

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    1. I've learned that though writing can be work--hard work--it's also a joy to do. A curious paradox!

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  12. Congratulations to Connie: cps1950@gmail.com
    She will receive an ebook version of her choice of my books.

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