The Magic of Being an Author
I’m delighted to be a guest blogger today. When Pamela asked if I would talk about the magic of being an author, I jumped at the chance.
In a twenty-five year writing career, I’ve taught private seminars, convention workshops and college courses that delve into the creative process. I’ve given aspiring writers and college students the tools they need to turn an idea into a completed work of fiction. I’ve dissected the writing process six ways to Sunday in an attempt to understand – and make my students understand – how all the elements of a story come together in a way that compels the reader to keep turning pages.
Always, though, there is the element that can’t be dissected, analyzed, taught, bought or learned. The beauty of magic is that no one knows how it happens, or why. It simply does.
And so, I won’t discuss magic. I won’t argue whether my sixty-five plus books are the product of a muse who sprinkles me with fairy dust or the brain children of a fertile imagination. I will present anecdotal evidence and let you draw your own conclusions.
My most recent magical manifestation can be seen in my Southern Cousins Mysteries. Elvis was supposed to be a ghost. I’d spent all day plotting the first mystery with the Elvis ghost as the centerpiece. Then my dog had to go outside, my muse started singing Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hounddog, and KAZAM! Magic happened. I knew Elvis was a sleuthing basset hound who couldn’t keep his opinions to himself.
Another big hint came when Elvis (the dog, not the real McCoy) started talking to me. Late at night, of course. While I was in my gown with no pen and pad handy. Naturally I rushed to my office to take dictation.
This is not the first time I’ve heard voices. Early in my career I spent a sleepless night arguing with the voices that my hero was NOT a soccer coach; he was a lawyer. You know who won, of course. The voices. When I finally caved in, I told the hero who wouldn’t shut up and let me sleep that he’d better be the best soccer coach ever! And he was.
The book was a delight to write. I might even say, “The book wrote itself,” which, of couse, is another way of saying, “It’s magic.”
When “books write themselves,” I’m merely a body at the keyboard whose heart, mind and soul have disappeared into the magical world of my imagination. I can hardly type fast enough to keep up with the flow – that amazing, endless stream of conversation and poetic description that pours forth.
When I say, I disappear, I’m not kidding around. One fine August day when the temperature in
When the mailman tooted his horn, breaking the spell, I raced outside and nearly fainted with heatstroke. Might I also add I became the talk of the neighborhood? Here’s a writerly hint: if you want people to leave you alone, wear winter garb in hundred-degree weather.
And then, of course, there’s the amazing magic of Driving Me Crazy. I had stopped writing to take care of Mama, who never ceased pestering me to go back to doing what you love best. After she died I put together a synopsis (about two older women taking care of their feisty, dying mom) then contacted beloved editor and long-time friend, Tara Gavin. She fell in love with the Mama character (guess who?) and bought the book on what would have been my own mother’s birthday. Additionally, I wrote the book in five weeks while I was teaching nine hours at Mississippi State University (a round-trip commute of a hundred-forty miles three days a week).
Don’t tell me there’s no magic!
Let me hear about your magical experiences. I’m here all day and would love to chat.