How do you describe the process of making art to someone?

Since I decided to publish books, I’ve been asked by a lot of people, “How do you write a book? Where do you get your ideas? What’s the first step?” And the real answer is – Hell if I know!

I’ve been a voracious reader all my life. I devoured the first three Harry Potter books 2001 less than 24 hours after taking my little sister and her friends to see the first movie. I’ve read hundreds of Dean Koontz thrillers and still consume about one Jane Austen variation novel a week (or more – I’m up to 23 in 2023 alone according to my Kindle). This is an addition to all the free fan fiction from my favorite online sites.

But I was never the obvious choice for someone who would one day write a novel.

My undergraduate degree is in Nuclear Physics and Engineering. Today, I’m a business lawyer at a large manufacturing company. All of my good friends (and my 9-year-old son) know that I’m an absolutely horrific speller. Funny self-own, I recently spelled the word “scissors” incorrectly in front of my son’s third grade class during a field trip. The teacher looked at me like are you serious right now. I knew I’d done something wrong, but I could not figure it out. In my defense, there are alltogether too many s’s in that word. They cannot all be necessary. When I was in my 20s, my Facebook profile said my occupation was “Nuclear Physiciscist.” It was pointed out to me by several people, including my mother whom it drove absolutely crazy, that it was spelled wrong. But I left it up. I felt like it said something about me as a person that I wanted other people to know.

Fast forward a decade+ and here I am.

I don’t know when writing became my obsession and my creative outlet, but it was a slow change. While I was in graduate school, I had to get a lot better (and faster) at writing for my masters and law degree. Then, during the period between taking the Bar exam and starting my job, I needed somewhere for the nervous energy to go and voila, my first book was born.

So where do my ideas come from?

They seem to come from no where and everywhere. My first P&P variation novel came from an imagined scene with Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine that just popped into my head one day. The ending of my second novel came to me while reading an old law article about how the black plague created 400 years of problems for land ownership and entails in pre-industrial England. The book I’m writing now, with a time travel element, just hit me in the face one day and I couldn’t put it down.

I know that there are many ways that people write books. Some have extensive outlines with most of the plot points figured out before they start writing. Other people let the story lead them on a journey. I’m somewhere in the middle.

I have to know the last scene before I can start the first chapter.

My outline is always vague and I certainly won’t let a good outline get in the way of a better scene unfolding at 2am. Most of the time I’m what people call a “pantser” (flying by the seat of my pants), however, I always have a destination in mind.

Fundamentally, when people ask these questions of me, I think they are looking for some validation that I’ve not changed as a person. It’s the surprise that I’ve written a novel, and that I want other people to read it, that shifts who I am as a person in the minds of friends and family who have known me for a long time. Sometimes I see on their faces that they need to put me back into a box in their mind that makes sense. This new information has changed me forever in their heads.

And that’s okay. I like surprising people.

No matter what your artistic medium, it is okay to break out of the box other people have put you in. It’s okay if what you love to do on the side is a complete tangent from your personal or professional life. If you are a pretty cheerful person IRL, but create morose art, Fabulous! Quiet and introverted but create characters who are larger than life, I am here for it! No matter who you are every day, if you are using books, painting, music, TikTok dancing, or anything else to fulfil a side of your personality that needs an outlet, that is perfect and your art is perfect just the way it is.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to meet you in all the normal places. Come find me around the interwebs.


5 responses to “How to Art?”

  1. Alice McVeigh Avatar

    I can’t think there are vast numbers of nuclear physicists/corporate lawyers writing Austenesque fiction. But – absolutely no reason why not!!

  2. Regina Jeffers Avatar

    People ask me the same question because most know me as a mathematician. Yet, I was always a voracious reader. Ironically, as a teacher, I ended up teaching English, speech, journalism, and theatre, which were originally my secondary majors in school. I am kind of whole brained rather than right or left brained. In my writing style, I am a “pantser,” writing by the seat of my pants, as they say. I have seen the chart you included above before (meaning I know you did not create it) and noted how in the first row is says “pantser,” but that soon becomes “plantser.” Just saying, I have no idea what a “plantser” might be unless it is a writer who plants clues throughout a mystery. Anyway, when I begin to write a new novel, I know this will happen (point A) and then this will happen (point B), etc., etc. etc. How I am to move from point A and then on to point B, etc., I do not know. Often, I end up at point B.1, and the story takes a divergent path to point C or we skip C and head towards D.

    We all have a method which works best for us. Many people think I am crazy when I say I still hand write my stories in a spiral notebook. There are lines up and down the page. Words scratched out. Words circled with “origin” written above it to remind me to look it up to know whether it was used in the Regency era or not. Words with an “sp” to remind me to check the spelling. Why is there some words in particular which we NEVER spell correctly and even when we do get it correct, we think it is wrong? [BTW, “altogether” only has one “L.” Yet, I assumed the extra “L” was purposeful in the sentence about too many “s’s” in “scissors.” Wink!!!] Sorry. English teacher mode slipped out. Permit me a moment to tuck it back in out of the way. I can see others’ mistakes, but not my own. Story of my life. Linda A. keeps me straight or as straight as she can when it comes to editing. I often still type two “the the” in a sentence.

  3. Glynis Avatar

    Firstly I am pretty good at spelling. At junior school we had spelling and mental arithmetic tests every Friday.
    Alas I’m definitely not artistic! I struggle to come up with original ideas so am not a writer or an artist. Years ago when my daughter had Barbie dolls I did used to create patterns to knit and crochet clothes for them but this was mainly so I could make them with less seams as I hate sewing! I also used to make posters for school and work and made psychedelic badges etc in the sixties. But that part of my brain has now given up.
    Luckily you and other authors keep me in Darcy and Elizabeth stories so thank you.

  4. Riana Everly Avatar

    I was always a creative speller. I mean, how boring to only know one way to spell a word, right?
    I think I’m somewhere between a lawful and chaotic planster. I know where things have to end up, but getting there is usually more surprising to me than my readers. Even in my mysteries, which have to be a bit more plotted, I’m always throwing myself red herrings and going down alleyways I didn’t know existed.
    “Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen next?” I ask myself on a far-too-regular basis.

  5. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    I’m sure it is hard to tell someone how you get ideas and things. I was always a good speller!lol I love to read too and Jane Austen variations are my favorites! I think you all have your writing methods that work for you!

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