Sodaro's Stories

June 29, 2015

Absolute Avoidance

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 4:49 pm

“Avoid the ones who expect you to fail.” Monica Wood

As with the lesson that I should be in my own fan club (see blog from 20 June), it also took me entirely too long to realize that not only COULD I avoid those who expected me to fail, but I also SHOULD avoid them.

(This is tricky sometimes because some people cheer you on to your face but secretly want you to fail, for whatever reason…jealousy…to feel better about their lives, who knows why someone would do this).

The problem with being around people who expect you to fail is that failure starts to make sense. (I have this chat with some of my adult learners whose family, friends, significant other, doesn’t support the pursuing of a college degree). We start to think, “I respect this person’s opinion (for whatever reason, habit? Fear?). This person thinks I will fail, therefor they are probably right and I will probably fail. (A slight bastardization of the “if A=B and B=C, then A must = C).

Avoid people who expect you to fail. Seems simple enough. You should be around people whose actions support your actions (see blog from 17 June) and you determination to succeed multiplies with their support (Also watch out for those who expect you to fail the whole time and then attempt to jump on the bandwagon with an “I always knew you would make it.”

Watch people’s actions. See if their body language matches their words. Keep those who truly support you, in your closest circle. And avoid those who want you to, expect you to, hope you, take actions to try to make you fail…avoid them all. Surround yourself with positive energy and people. It matters.

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June 28, 2015

Truth

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 4:36 pm
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“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.” Walt Whitman

You know that moment where you have made a decision and everything inside you is smiling and you feel absolute peace of mind, heart, and soul…this is truth.

Sometimes it is beginning of something. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is the ending of something…but there is always that overwhelming all-encompassing feeling that just fills you all the way to your toes and everything makes sense and you just feel completely at peace. This is truth. You know you made the right choice and somehow it will all work out.

I have always loved writing. Have always felt the peace at the feel of a pen in my hand, flowing across the paper. I have always known the healing powers of writing (even made it the entire basis for my Master’s Thesis).

When a love of mine died, I was crushed. My heart and soul were devastated and I was lost. And then the plans we had made together where I was a full-time author came to my mind, and I knew I would still accomplish this goal on my own, just like we had planned. As soon as I made that decision, my soul was at peace and I knew that being an author was my future. That decision satisfied my soul…and is the absolute truth.

June 27, 2015

Fresh Ideas

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 10:46 am
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“Ideas won’t keep — something must be done about them.” Alfred North Whitehead

I think every creative person learns this…sometimes we learn the hard way, when we have lost an idea and it is seemingly gone forever. The worst thing you can think about an idea is “I don’t need to write that down. It’s too fantastic an idea to forget.” (at best you will remember you had an idea…but that will be the only smoke that remains.) That idea is long gone.
(Color Notes on my phone has saved many an idea from this fate and it is absolutely the favorite application I have on my phone. Hands down).

The same truth also happens even after you have captured an idea and you let it be ignored for too long. If you on’t at least come visit your idea once in a while, it will leave you to find another creative spirit. How many times has something new come out that reminds you of something you thought of years ago? Yup. You snooze, you lose, my friend.

Now of course, it’s impossible to work on all ideas simultaneously (trust me, I have tried) but it IS possible to visit your ideas and play with them, show them our love and stay connected so they don’t leave. I do this one of three ways (or any combination therein):

1. Freewrite — Absolutely, hands own, Freewriting has been a saving grace for me. It helps me write regardless of my mood and it keeps thoughts going on for my different projects. Over the month of May, I did a freewrite for each of my 35 fiction projects that I have started. (I started doing them for my 30 nonfiction projects as well, but only have about 10 of them done so far).

2. Random prompts — Monica Wood’s two editions of The Pocket Muse help with this because she has a prompt for every day of the year (times two). I will draw a story title out of a box, pick a prompt, and write a scene.

3. Talking to others — I have a group of about five people who are amazing at keeping my novels straight in their minds and I can just start up a “So I was thinking about doing this for Back on Track,” and they will be right there with me.

Find a way to capture your ideas. Visit them on a regular basis. You’ll thank me later.

June 26, 2015

Delusions

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 10:33 am
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“Delusions of Grandeur make me feel a lot better about myself.” Jane Wagner

Where would we be without our delusions…where would we be when someone said, “It’s not you; it’s me.” What would we have to face if not for the comfort of our delusions?

Similar to yesterday’s post, I think authors need their delusions. We all want to believe that our story is unique enough to be worth telling, that our characters are unlike any other characters that currently exist in the multitude of fictional worlds that have been published. Ahhhhh sweet delusions.

The reality is there are no original stories…just little twists and turns and minutiae detail that makes this story or that one stand out.

Characters are archetypes. The reluctant hero…the bad guy turned good, the once-burned, twice shy female, the star-crossed lovers, the misunderstood youth, the wise, slightly crazy older character…it is all a matter of believing we can put the characters into different enough scenarios to seem original and the delusions keep us writing more books.

June 25, 2015

Realism

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 10:19 am
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“Realism can break a writer’s heart.” Salman Rushdie

I much prefer the worlds of the books I create or read to reality. News, social media, conversations; so much negative energy and so much time spent on hurting each other, bringing each other down, lying, cheating, stealing…ugh…no thank you. I will sit over here with my pens and notebooks and just take a bit of a break from reality, thank you. I definitely see this as one way this quote appeals to me.

My goal is to own an island. I want to make a living as an author — want my books to pay my bills. This is my goal — an honest to God goal…and also portrays the second way I can relate to this quote. The reality is, that despite my hard work and plans, that none of my books may take off…but I find that “reality” to be disheartening and prefer to believe in my fictional world an characters, thank you very much.

Reality really can break a writer’s heart…yes it can. In reality, loves end, people will fail you, you can do everything right and things can still go horribly wrong. So many things in our real world can absolutely destroy a writer’s heart. So I will stay in my fictional worlds as much as I possibly can.

June 24, 2015

Books I want to Read

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 9:57 am
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“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison

As an author I have always thought that I write stories I want to read with characters I want to meet. There are so many books I want to read that don’t exist yet. Lucky for me, I have already started writing them.

I used to think I needed to finish reading every book I had started. Then in an interview I read with Stephen King, he gave all his readers permission to not finish every book they started because there are far too many books out there to waste time on ones we don’t enjoy.

When I published Whatever you Make of It, I then found another reason that I didn’t have to finish every book I started…and that was the the stories I wanted to read didn’t exist yet, so rather than waste time trying to finish a book that didn’t catch my attention (I usually give a book until chapter 4 to catch me). I could be spending my time on my novels that don’t exist yet.

So get to writing, Sodaro, you have future novels to read that have only been started so far.

June 23, 2015

Marks on my path

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 9:36 am

“No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” Mauria Francois

It always amazes me how the tapestries of our lives are woven and how you can meet a person and your whole life is instantly changed forever and you can’t imagine not having met this person. Your life is forever changed.

We all splash colors or patterns on the canvasses of those we meet. It is as intricate as it is fascinating.

As an author, I am always aware of the moment I meet someone who will add depth to this character or that story. (That probably sounds odd, but I do notice their impact on my personal life as well, though those lessons some times take me longer to comprehend). Seeing the literary need the person fills is usually pretty immediate…and it puts my Master’s Thesis to work by using writing to realize the real-life lesson being presented.

June 22, 2015

I’m a real writer (said in Pinocchio’s voice)

“Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.” Norman Mailer

I wrote to this a bit with King’s quote as well, but to me, this is just the heart of it. No matter what noun you put in place of “writer.” This is the truth. Think about it.

You’re a parent.

You’re in a relationship.

You are working out. Etc.

You’re having a bad day. Do you stop being a parent? No. You still take care of your kids. Do you walk away from your relationship because of a bad day? Hope not. Good relationships are hard to find. Do you quit working out because you are having a bad day? If you are like most people I know, you still hit the gym.

Same with being a writer. You work through the bad days, which make you grateful for the good days.

If something is important to you, you stick with it through the bad days, knowing they can’t last forever. If you can walk away because of one bad day, it never meant much to you anyway. I get the feeling I am still talking about more than writing here…as usual.

Bad days don’t last forever and if everything was always sunshine and smooth sailing, how would you ever know you were actually strong enough to weather the inevitable storm?

June 21, 2015

Sound

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 4:47 pm
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“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Elmore Leonard

One of the best tests of my novel writing process is when I get to the final read through.

The novel has been written and edited and put aside to percolate. It has been revised, and polished and by this time, I am better acquainted with my characters than I am with most of my friends and family.

When I get to he final read through — it is all about how the novel SOUNDS. it is now the work for my ears (well, ear, as my right one just keeps my glasses on). I listen for three specific things:

1. Does this sound like an English teacher wrote it? (Even though I don’t technically teach English anymore, the training is still always there, like the world’s most insistent alarm clock — “tsk, you ended that sentence with a preposition.” “That should be ‘whom,’ not ‘who,’ you neanderthal.”

One of the things about being an author is knowing the rules and, more importantly, knowing how and when to break those rules.

I want my novels to sound like normal everyday life, not like all of the sentences are about to be diagrammed and graded.

2. The second thing I listen for in my final read through is checking for character consistencies. As well as I have gotten to know my characters by this point in the process, I listen for each of their “voices.” Does Ali sound different than Sam? Did Nicholas sound different than Zachary? I try to make sure to give markers so my readers always know who is speaking and I try to do this without having “said” every other line. (personal pet peeve)

3. The last thing I listen for is just the dialogue in general. I spend a lot of time listening to people talk (more than I spend actually listening to what they are saying, I am actually listening to HOW they are saying it). So I am also listening to how my dialogue sounds. Does it sound  like people actually talk? Would this character use this phrase? And then I fix anything that sounds false. But I read it out loud so I can really HEAR my words.

June 20, 2015

My own fan club

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 11:30 am
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“You get your confidence and intuition back by trusting yourself, by being militantly on your side.” Anne Lamott

I am ashamed at how long it took me to realize this fact…that I have to trust myself and stand up for myself and go to bat for myself. Seems rather obvious in hindsight, but then almost everything does.

I have a really amazing support system of friends, family, readers, ex-students, etc. I say this not as a brag (humble or otherwise), but to make a point. I have these people who believe in me and support me…who cheer me on and cheer me up…who celebrate my victories and help me to push myself even farther. They are amazing and I absolutely couldn’t do all that i do without their constant and consistent support and love.

The embarrassing revelation I had was that as it turned out, I did not have a membership to my own fan club. How is that even possible? Shouldn’t I have not only bought the first t-shirt but also had the biggest, flashiest poster for “Club Sodaro” ???

How did I miss this? How could I see others rally for me, and not notice my presence was missing from my own parade?

As a teacher I have completed every assignment I have asked my students to do — I never wanted to ask of them something I was unable/unwilling to do…and yet as an author, I completely dropped the ball on this. But now, I have my official membership card and my t-shirt in the mail. To those of you who have been here, thanks for showing me the way.

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