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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

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Writing

Mystery Dwells in Every Story

At least that is my experience.  E.L. Doctorow had it right.  The story being told often surprises the author.  You round a curve, headlights on, only to discover a divergent sequence of events unfolding.  I think for me it is God’s way of humbling me.  Oh, you thought, Max was headed to Knoxville.  Where did that log truck come from?  

Writing this I realize that if you’ve met one writer, you have met one writer.  Not all, maybe not any, experience writing a short story or novel, like I do.  Some authors exercise precise control over characters, plot, setting, the whole design set before putting the story into words.

I plan, but I glimpse only a twinkling light at the end of the tunnel.   I plan, but the story finds new characters who deserve attention, perhaps more attention than I care to give them.  I plan but the most joyful experience happens when the words, images, characters carry on as my fingers tap the keys.  With Braking Points daily I printed the new pages and read them to my husband.  Together, he and I, for he is a far better editor than I am, eliminated words, corrected grammar and awkward sentences.  He was and is my greatest encourager.  Watching him react to the plot kept me going for it said at least one person on earth liked the story.  A sprinkle of magic happened in those times. We both became involved with the characters, often discussing them as if they were real.  And therein lies the mystery and the magic of writing fiction.  Truth emerges, even in make believe.  The stories around us fuel the imagination and fire up the engines to create.  So that, what we write like what we read takes us places that are as real as the air we breathe.

Let me encourage you whatever your method of prep and writing to look for the stories, listen to the stories already blooming in your mind, and WRITE them down.  Go with God and discover the mystery that is writing.

 

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Where Stories Dwell

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First, Stories Dwell in the Lives of Others

Recently, with the published copy of Braking Points In my hands, I sat down and reread it.  That may seem odd to some, but it refreshed me and it reminded me of the  bits and pieces of others’ lives lived on those pages in the lives of Max and Lily, Amanda, Millie, Sophia.  Why?  Because in listening to the stories of friends and acquaintances over scores of years and sometimes even writing them down, I had a vast treasure trove that I barely tapped writing the novel.  I woke up this morning filled with gratitude for the experiences of others that tap into my imagination and fuel my expression of those in words.  I especially was thinking of my friend Judy, who has a gift for relating every day events in ways that never cease to make me laugh.  In my early morning meandering a story, she told me over lunch last week, brought a smile to my face, then a chuckle and then diabolical as I am I started to think how I could use it in my current novel.

Second, Stories Dwell in the World Around, in the News, in Books

Beyond the political news or maybe sometimes even in the midst of that, there are stories that beg to be told.  Writers tend to be observers.  Not all are introverts who watch, listen, read and turn it all over in their heads.  Some are extroverts who jump into every fray, expounding of every issue, gathering others around them, but it is in their approach to life that stories later to be transferred into words on a page or these days words on a screen are conceived.  There are folks who scour news stories, magazine articles, and travel guides finding kernels of ideas,  ‘what if’s’, that beg to be fleshed out and written.  For me, even a turn of phrase in something I hear or read will set my writer’s wheels turning.  I recently read the following quote in my morning quiet time from a devotion by Christine Caine:

“Our race would be easy if God kept us in the “strength zone” in our lives, but instead, he consistently pushes us into our “weakness zone,” because it is in our weakness that he is made strong” Christine Caine

What caught my attention was her use of the words, “weakness zone,” which started my thoughts rolling around in my head.  With that as a starting point I began to create a story, with setting and two characters to start, a mother and a daughter–always a complex situation.  Later that day, I read on Facebook about what a Rainbow Child was, the child born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or early demise of a sibling.  And I began the construct of a story I wanted to jump into and write.

Third, Stories Dwell in Who I am, in My Faith, My Worldview, My Backstory

I read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, and usually it doesn’t take me long to get a feel for the author’s worldview.  I learn a great deal that way, even from worldviews widely separate from mine.  I find at the core we are all more alike than different.  I find life stories similar to my own but told from a point 180 degrees out from my own.  I seek to understand others by reading a divergent crop of material.

However, when I write, I cannot adopt another worldview and have words, thoughts, conversations flow onto the page.  I do at times include characters with different worldviews.  My reading and conversations with friends, family, random folk do, I hope, allow me to portray other views truthfully and with empathy of our shared humanity.  Even then my faith in God and Jesus Christ guides me.  Above all else to love.  Want to know what books I discard quickly, books that bleed animosity and hatred onto the page, especially toward people groups.

Stories dwell everywhere.  Stories that long to be told.  In everyone there lies a true story of their life, and in everyone’s story there is also a novel to be written.  I may have started later than others but I long to tell the stories that will capture even a few readers’ hearts.  And I intend to read all the stories others write as well–at least as many as I can.

I Write Because…

imageThis is the first of two posts for this day. I have no idea how many people even read this blog, but I have a favor to ask of those who do. I am posting the beginning of a story today and would really appreciate feedback.

I write not to publish on the grand scheme of things, but because I can not NOT write. Even when I am without paper, pen, IPad, laptop, I write in my head, configering words to tell a story or express a thought, words that may never be transmitted outside my own mind. For me, words have power whether expressed or repressed to effect change, to bring laughter or tears, hope or despair, power that can be good or evil…and not always because that was the originator’s intention.

I love the way words can be turned and meaning changed with a comma or a semi-colon. I am the first to admit I often do not know when to use either of those elements of punctuation or whether in the last paragraph I used the word “effect” correctly. Needing to write is not about being good at writing or grammatically endowed, it is about the drive to put your words out there even when you (I) don’t.

I wrote the novel Braking Points, published previously on this blog, by committing to putting 1500 words into the computer per day. There have been stops and starts since that was completed. This blog has allowed me to express some of those words. For some time now another story has been brewing inside and so I am going to put the beginning words out there today for anyone of the 2 or 3 who read this to give me feedback.

By faith I believe God gave me the drive to write, for which I am grateful, but it may be that He intended my writing to be a personal endeavor and not a public one. So I turn it over to you, my Friends of Braking Points.

The Power of a Grateful Heart–Observation Gratitude

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Some people are like action figures, they explore their world from the time they first climb over the bars of their cribs and tumble out on their heads. They go through life climbing trees, riding bicycles up ramps, speeding off on a four wheeler or motorcycle, jumping out of airplanes, skiing down black slopes, slalom water skiing, learning to fly, you know the type…and I married one. Other people grow up observing, they watch their brother fall head first from his crib, ride bikes behind other folks avoiding the holes they run into, ride up in the plane to watch their spouses jump out…you got it, I am more observer than action figure. I do things and even take chances, but not without first observing the course and considering the outcomes. My husband commented the other morning when I was driving that I take caution to a whole new level, but once I am on the Parkway, “Katie, Bar the door”, cause I travel fast. Perhaps because I have spent a lot of time in corners at parties watching is why I write to share my observations of the world and the marvelous people assembled here.

Frankly, I have always wanted to be a wild adventurer and love to read about them. Hey! I even married one. Even when he broke his neck on a sandy beach at Keystone Lake in 1972, he did not give up skiing. And who goes to seminary at age 42 after walking on the darker side in private security and private investigation…beginning the grand spiritual adventure that brought us to this place in preparation for the greatest adventure of all…going Home! Along the way, I have had so many opportunities thanks to my man to meet and come to love some of the most wonderful people in God’s world and I have experienced heart wrenching pain as I walked with my man in ministry. Along the way, I have observed and internalized and I am so thankful God gave me all these opportunities, so thankful he made me an observer and that he gives me words to share about all my adventures as one of his who watches, prays, and writes it down.

So thankful.

Are you an Action Figure or Observer?

Blessings on this first day of November, 2013.

Carolyn

Open Letter to Readers of Braking Points

Dear Readers,

In a few minutes I will post the Epilogue to BRAKING POINTS. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those who have followed Max, Lily, Amanda, and Sophia’s journey. I wrote the novel in 2004-2005, while Terry and I were living in Pembroke, KY in Christian County. Max and Lily are based in part on my mother and father-in-law, Dorothy and Maurice Kisler. Dorothy had Alzheimer’s disease and Maurice chose, in fact refused all other options, to become her primary caretaker. Dorothy died November 21, 2004 at age 86 in her home with her two sons, her daughter Kaye preceded her in death in August 1987, and her husband Maurice at her side. Maurice lived to the age of 93, dying in his home during a horrible snowstorm February 7, 2011 in Tulsa with his eldest son, Maurice Lee by his side. On December 6th that same year, my mother, Ada Marie Ivy died at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa after developing pancreatitis and pneumonia. My mom was 89 years old and still mentally sharp right up to slipping into a coma hours before her death.

We often hear of “coming of age” stories, but I prefer to write “coming of OLD age” stories with multi-generational layers of characters, like the Carnes Family. My world owes so much to the generation that raised us and my world would not be complete without my children and grandchildren. I love having friends who are younger and older so much of the material I write about comes from their stories. I love that God allows me to pursue my passion which is writing and that He is my ever present friend, companion and muse. I told Terry when I was writing BRAKING POINTS and reading him segments daily that I could hardly wait to get to the keyboard after a day at work, so I could see what Max and his entourage were up to. I wasn’t even sure when it would end, but then I knew as I wrote Chapter 27.

Again I am grateful to those of you who have read this book in serial form for the past month. I would appreciate comments, questions, and suggestions. And as I promised, as soon as I publish this, I will publish the epilogue. You can comment on the website or on Facebook, but please take just a moment to do so.
Blessings on you all and remember if you get a head full of steam over something, say the Lord’s Prayer before responding, better than counting to ten.

Love to you all,
Carolyn

White Space

Words on a page, strung together

in person. place and time

syntactical form, grammatical tethers

periods, commas, an occasional rhyme

Separated and yet bound together

Punctuation, white space between words and lines

Glue between bricks, Grace in the spaces

God’s Word in the content so I can align

Not the words alone, but the mortar that laces

God’s love abiding between the lines

For God there is no place nor time

He’s with us now.  He was with us then. 

From the first words spoken until the end.

And then, beginning yet again.

For us there is no place or time

But plenty of space between the lines.

Jordan and Terry, May 20, 2013
Jordan and Terry, May 20, 2013

For Terry on a Sunday Morning in recognition of the power of God and His Word in our lives.

Carolyn 

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