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.
Leave a Reply