{Between the Lines}

The Agents of Books & Such Literary Management Muse About Books, Publishing, and Life

Life Is Research

Cynthia Ruchti

Blogger: Cynthia Ruchti

Life got in the way of my writing today.

Have those words crossed your mind lately?

Interruptions. Intrusions. Disrupted plans. Upheaval. Kids. Grandkids. Aging parents. Work. School. Volunteer responsibilities. Ordinary and relentless home maintenance…

Memories, good and bad. Failures and victories. Challenges met. Opportunities lost. Times of plenty and times of want.

Life gets in the way.

And life is what we write about.

Both statements are true. Consider how your portfolio of writing and your research files are growing because of the very things that sometimes frustrate your writing plans.

Yesterday, the afternoon I’d planned to spend writing turned into a short road trip with my husband. When we returned home, I noticed I had collected two pages of legal pad notes, a dozen photographs, insights about a quirky character who’d had me stumped, and scenes already developing in my head. I had to push away from my desk in order to gather the raw materials for constructing the story.

If you’ve been writing for more than a few months, you’ve probably already discovered that your sentences are beginning to fill with scent and taste memories, with a flash of recollection from decades ago, with a depth of color you noticed in your walk yesterday. That’s how we write. We walk through life observing, listening, asking questions, collecting, filling our pockets with experiences and sensations and impressions.

What is it about life that informs our writing?

Childhood.life and childhood

School experiences.

Work history and relationships in the workplace.

Home environment.

Family.

Friends.

Play.life and hobbies

Hobbies.

Travel.life and travel

Challenges.

Victories.

Books we’ve read.

life and moviesMovies we’ve seen.

Dreams.

Loves won and lost.

Adventures.

Misadventures.

And, yes, interrupted schedules.

The next time your writing intentions are interrupted by life, grab your notebook and a pen. Gather all the tidbits of sight, sound, taste, texture, emotion, color, and fragrances interwoven in the interruption. The information may not be needed for the book or article you’re working on right now. But it won’t be wasted.

What life experiences did you not realize at the time would influence what or how you write?

Dead Giveaways

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Many a time I’ve been in on a discussion with agents or editors when they mention that something was a dead giveaway that the author was a newbie. Now there’s nothing wrong with being new to something …

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