Friday, March 27, 2015

Toes in the Sand by Betsy Ashton

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." 
~Henry David Thoreau

I had no idea when I started my path to be a writer where it would lead. My dreams were to learn to write, to tell a good story, and to entertain those who chose to read it.

I taught a memoir-writing class yesterday at a 55+ retirement community where I met eight outstanding people. I asked them to tell me stories about their parents or grandparents. Many focused on the values taught them as children and how those values shaped their lives. I asked them to think of a favorite smell from one relative. Smells ranged from sweat, machine oil and pipe tobacco (factory worker), cotton (textile worker), talc, perfume and Ivory soap (various grandmothers) and fresh biscuits with jam (home maker). I could see the people had never thought how important it is to capture scents to give a relative flesh and blood. I left them writing away, happily sharing memories with each other.

I had always written for business and pleasure, but when I became serious about writing fiction, I knew squat. I had no idea about the different ways to approach characterization or scene. I simply told a story, plopped in some dialogue, and called my draft done. Not so. It took the patience from a writing group and some beta readers smacking me upside the head to help me focus on the craft of writing. I'm pretty dense, but something finally came through.

I didn't dream of publishing a novel. I dreamed smaller in the telling of the story. Now I know the importance of showing that story through action and dialogue and less through plain narration. Beta readers now look forward to the next book or section of a book. They encouraged me to dream large.

I did. With one novel in print since 2013 and the sequel coming out on Tax Day, I am now living the life I imagined. From toes in the sand of writing to a couple steps on the journey, I'm on my way. I still don't know where writing will lead, but I'm willing to follow my dreams.

Now, if I could just win the lottery...


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, which is now available for pre-launch e-book orders at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Margo Hoornstra said...

Betsy. Smacks up side the head are, at times, necessary. I speak from experience. Best of luck with your latest release, and congratulations on achieving your dream.

Jannine Gallant said...

I think we all began this journey knowing nothing about the process. Just shows what can be accomplished when you're willing to learn and grow!

Alicia Dean said...

So true. I had no idea what the process would entail. I'm still on my journey and still require a few smacks upside the head from time to time. Congrats on the upcoming release!

Leah St. James said...

As readers, we don't know all that goes into making a great story. When the story-telling is done well, it's both rich and smooth, and all those elements flow without being detected (by the reader) as separate elements. It's hard work! It's fun though, isn't it? :-) And congrats on the new release!