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Posts tagged ‘Why we write’

Next Stop on Blog Hop Tour RE “My Writing Procedure”

What is Lori Foroozandeh ’s writing process for sharing some of the most horrendous experiences imaginable: rape, starvation, beatings in an Iran concentration camp. Visit her blog to read her answers:  http://lorissong.com/2014/02/16/blog-hop-tour/ and visit Amazon.com to learn more about her book: Lori’s Song

My Writing Process: a stop on a blog hop tour

“The author Marta Merajver-Kurlat http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/index.php/blogroll), author of Just Toss the Ashes and Living with Stress among others, invited me to participate in this blog hop tour and answer these four questions about my writing process.”


What am I working on?

 I am writing a sequel to my first novel, Pieces of You, which will be set exclusively in the future; whereas, Pieces’ protagonist, Mark, time-traveled from past experiences to the near future to the beyond. The title of my new novel, Battle of Jericho 2035, gives ample detail about the  plot. Using the example of how Joshua and his army won the battle of Jericho in a Biblical story, they did not knock the wars of the city down by force. They just marched around it (as commanded by God) and the walls fell flat on the seventh day, after  the 13th march.

In my Battle novel, the masses of people on Earth are controlled by a world council of super rich led by the leadership of one bank, nicknamed CandyLand. The people’s rations have been cut to the level of near starvation due to a malfunctioning space elevator. CandyLand’s director has ties to an unscrupulous group, while insurgents among the people are linked to Mark and his team of supernatural beings. There is sacrificial love as in the first novel, but the actors are not the same and the decisions could affect millions, not just Mark’s loved ones.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s easier forstanding on a book me to offer similarities. I’d like to think my current work has some things in common with C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, especially the first book, Out of the Silent Planet.  As one of that book’s reviewers stated, “The most compelling points are the simple conclusions Lewis comes to about human nature and the corrupt world we live in.”

Science fiction is defined by readwritethink.org (a website that offers teaching resources) as “often about technology of the future detailing partially true theories of science. (If  it bends to the  unbelievable, it is labeled fantasy). The plot creates situations different from those of both the present day and the known past. Science fiction texts also include a human element, explaining what effect new discoveries, happenings and scientific developments will have on us in the future.” My story fits this criteria but injects social justice issues, typical of some but not all SciFi writers.


        3)            Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always loved science fiction best, maybe because it demands a creative flair, and maybe because it manifests possibilities within our impossible dreams.

I do believe it’s possible to write into being a different world, at least from the perspective that we can envision what it will look and act like. My hope is that my narratives will inspire readers to join with other dreamers and together become the architects of at least the foundations of this new world.

 Although I can’t explain why, I don’t believe I could ever write strictly to entertain. And although nonfiction—especially business and academic writing—has been my domain for most of my life,  those genres aren’t appropriate for my current writing goals. People read non-fiction to learn more of what interests them, not to have their beliefs and prejudices disturbed. While reading fiction, we absorb new information but in a more subtle and very effective way, by imagining ourselves there.

How does your writing process work?

 Not very effectively! Many of my colleagues have formulas that others applaud and often try to replicate. You won’t get that from me… I’m still working on “finding my voice,” on finding that place within myself where confidence, creativity, and competence merge.

 I don’t write regularly, in fact I seem to subconsciously (or deliberately) restrain the  urge to write. Some of that is my fear of failure—while acknowledging that not trying is a certain path to failure. The rest I chalk up to perfectionism. A former communications professor said something that has stayed with me all these years. It succinctly describes the problem with perfectionism: “you cannot be a participant and observer, too.” Too often I choose the observer role and then wonder why I can’t loosen control over my thinking to let in the light (of insight).

 I’m still searching for that precious place about which a Zen master told Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones: “If you go deep enough in writing, it will take you everyplace.” So instead of telling you how my writing process works, I will state unequivocally how I know my writing process should (maybe will?) work—actually it’s taken from Natalie—“..and though death is howling at our backs and life is roaring at our faces, we can just begin to write, simply begin to write what we have to say.”


Joyce’s first novel, completed in August of 2012, was a response to a loss that made her ask some deep questions. Pieces of You, about a mystical journey that will make the protagonist capable of the sacrifice love asks of him, is available through amazon.com. Her author page: http://www.amazon.com/Joyce-Elferdink/e/B008ZTCRUY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0  includes a book trailer. A sequel will be published later this year.*     

I am inviting Lori Foroozandeh to join our Blog Hop Tour next week. Information about her horrendous experiences in an Iranian POW camp as told in her book can be found here:

http://www.loris-song.com/ (WEBSITE)
http://lorissong.com/ (BLOG)
https://twitter.com/Loris_Song (TWITTER)
https://www.facebook.com/lforoozandeh#!/lforoozandeh (FB)
http://www.amazon.com/Lori-Foroozandeh/e/B002NSC2DU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 (AMAZON)

Why Start a Second Novel?

Since I now have marvelous editorial assistance for the eighth and hopefully final revision of my first novel, it is time to begin my sequel. I had not planned to write a second, especially since the idea for my first came after disaster struck in my life. It’s been four years since the death of my heart’s love, and life is good. I’m semi-retired: teaching one college course most terms and benefiting in many unexpected ways from the return to my hometown.  So why return to the struggle of writing a whole book?

Because there’s another story to be told that just might make a difference in the lives of a few people…  And since it’s a sequel, it  didn’t require a major crisis to be the initiating factor. Instead, starting the project represents my need to ask another question–maybe even getting answers along the way. As Gary Scmidt told the crowd at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing, a writer’s focus, comes when we find and attend to that question that stirs us and leads us to write stories that say to the reader: “Why don’t you try this?”

My question: How can I act justly when I am overwhelmed by the number of  injustices prevalent in our world and feel a sense of powerlessness to intercede?

Will I find answers? There’s no assurance they will come through storytelling, but I may at the least cause others to ask similar questions. So I begin…

Here’s the start of an outline for what I am calling a science fiction novel: [I would love to get feedback from you (e.g., Does Part I’s premise capture your attention? Bring up questions? ]


Purpose: To show that spirits are active on the Earth, good and evil fighting for dominance, although world conditions make it seem that evil is winning. But there’s hope when humans team up with supernatural beings (of the “white” kind)… One of these teams will include Janine, an elderly woman whose lover, Mark, died more than fifteen years ago. She has been feeling his presence strongly in the last few months as living conditions for her family (along with the vast majority of the earth’s population) have greatly deteriorated.

Part I

Continue where Mark’s glimpse of the future left off (in first novel, Pieces of You)

  1. The world has changed drastically. Control of the wealth is in the hands of a coalition of three international corporations. Partners for ten years, one is now trying to force the other two into subordinate positions. And it seems to be working. Corporation A has created an alliance with a supernatural group, even though the price will be extremely high. (more…)

Why I Write

I have finished my first novel and now have it in the hands of a wonderfully talented editor, Linnet Woods, who lives on a boat off the coast of Spain. This seems a good time to consider the question of why am I am finally writing my first book. Maybe my story will make readers believe they, too, have enough to say to begin (or complete) their story.

Why do I write? I couldn’t answer that question until I came to terms with why I haven’t written. Even that must be clarified: I have always written, but never even thought of writing a book until I started writing Pieces of You. I wrote in a journal as a child, but it was primarily about my parents’ horrible relationship. Then I took up journal writing again as a divorced adult, but my second husband destroyed that book. (Evidently he thought the memories of my former male friends would be erased if the pages on which they lived were eliminated.)

I wrote for work—annual reports, marketing material, curriculum, and other such works required of a bank manager, economic development director and then college instructor. I remember a former boss, the head of Battle Creek Unlimited, commanding me to write a book while in the Peace Corps.

I did not. I had nothing to say.

Yes, I had many amazing experiences while in Kazakhstan and while living a life that was never the typical fairy tale. I was always busy trying to accomplish—and to escape. And I always read novels–to escape and/or to learn, so I could accomplish more. But I didn’t find the inspiration to share what I was learning…until Kirk/Mark’s death.

In trying to answer the why question, I have concluded that, for me, writing a book is about sharing what has changed me enough to believe (or at least hope) I can answer questions others have, too.  When the model for my protagonist died unexpectedly, I had lots of questions: Where was he? Why did he have to die just when our relationship was becoming something very special?  Why weren’t prayers answered? To answer some of those questions, I had to do considerable research, soul searching, and creative thinking. As I detected answers, I began writing his story—or what I believe could be his story.

Why do I write? More specifically, why did I write my first novel at 60 something? I finally have something to say. When I faced my haunting questions, I found some incredible answers. But most of all, I wrote this one to recover pieces of him.

“But some things are worth fighting for” (end quote from “Inside Job”)

Please watch the documentary, Inside Job! My response is not a call to take up arms; instead it is a plea to help me testify to the injustices we know about. After watching this Oscar winner, I had a momentary feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. The top one percent, the wealthiest Americans, have gained so much financial power that I wonder how to hold back what seems to be a tsunami threatening our way of life.

Many of the one percent have this in common, “a blatant disregard for the impact of their actions” (quoted from the movie, stated by an analyst of many of the CEOs). Many others who are not in that category have come under the influence of their lobbyists and other mouthpieces: think news media, academic and government economists (watch interviews in Inside Job), greedy business people, and polluted preachers. Others who have withstood the avalanche of false data and misrepresentation get sucked into the mire by our own cravings—we want what they have or don’t want to lose our more meager assets; this need allows us to be manipulated, even subjugated by the powerful.

And power corrupts, especially when linked with the human tendency toward greed.

Portrayed so clearly in the documentary is the outcome of risk-taking of the financial services industry—billions in losses globally while the chief gamblers continue to gain. [Again, see the documentary for a discussion of derivatives, bonuses, and remorselessness.] I explained derivatives in my book, Pieces of You, this way:

“Derivatives are not inherently bad; as you found in your research, they can limit the risk of bank lending. But when they become a tool for grossly leveraging lending, and when it is hard to discern the abuse, the havoc generated can touch every level of society.”
“You clearly stated that derivatives trading can limit risk—a good thing—so if our managers don’t fall prey to greediness, it would be the assurance my young bank colleagues and I are looking for. Thank you for explaining that! Now I’m ready to return to the discussion at Denise’s house.”
“I wonder why you so quickly brush off the potential effect of greed on this scheme. Why don’t you take a few minutes to consider how the excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves has affected your own life?”

The question posed to my protagonist is a call to examine ourselves: do our decisions differentiate us from what the one percent have in common? Many of us want to join the fight against injustice, but our voices lack power—until we can prove we are different, that in all our actions we are mindful of the impact on others. Within this proof lies the power of our words to confront whatever is worth fighting for. And by our testimony, we can hold back the tsunami.
<a href="“>See the op-ed, “Another Inside Job” by Paul Krugman, NYTimes

We Write for Three Reasons (Maybe Four)

Reason #1: To be activists or advocates

Yesterday I commented on Robert McCrum’s post: Why Writers Make Reluctant Revolutionaries at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/robert-mccrum-on-books. When I looked up the meaning of revolutionary in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, I adopted the (c) entry: “constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change.” Using that definition, I refute Robert’s thesis because authors often lead the charge for change without offering their bodies as barricades. Their characters do that. I have not been the same since I entered the world of an international sweat shop in the shoes of one of Davis Bunn’s characters in The Great Divide. A good story, more often than media images, lures me into reality and onto the path of redemption. Surely, bringing about change is an irrefutable reason to write.

Reason #2: To make a career of doing what seems most natural

If we don’t do what we love, we risk doing nothing or even worse, doing something very poorly. For those who know writing is their talent, it would be reckless to ignore it. But what if we don’t know? Carl Jung wrote in The Stages of Life, “We limit ourselves to the attainable, and this means the renunciation of all other potentialities.” People with potential who don’t believe they can demonstrate a level of competence similar to [insert your favorite author/book title] may never write anything not required. Ignoring the inner impulses, they work abnormally hard or hardly work; either option subdues lasting satisfaction. Surely, using natural ability is an honorable reason to write.

Reason #3: To become famous and leave a legacy

Becoming famous may or may not be concurrent with making a lot of money. Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, tells her students that becoming a better writer leads to the pay-off of becoming a better reader. Most want more than that; they want to be published. Even putting aside the money issue (the pot of gold has already been found by J. K. Rowling), most of us would like to be fondly remembered after we leave this world. Wouldn’t a best-seller or two do that? But wouldn’t our significance be assured by living our lives treating others as we wish to be treated? Surely, becoming famous is a popular, but defective reason to write.

Reason #4: Because someone else pushed us to achieve their dream.
Surely, doing it to please others is not a reason to write.

This is my list and in the order of importance to me. What is your reason for writing… or for not writing?

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