Making Stuff Up

You could write a book on this topic. Writing fiction … from the beginning … to publication …
But hopefully, my personal journey will reassure you, perhaps a beginning writer, that it’s possible. I had been a non-fiction writer, a free-lance journalist for over 25 years raising five amazing children on three continents. I was a stay at home mom endeavoring to keep my skills honed by freelancing articles. Moving often, it seemed prudent to be on tap to help children adjust to new cultures in Europe and South Africa. But that’s another book waiting to be written.

For now, suffice it to say that switching to fiction seemed in the beginning to be a piece of cake.

Who wouldn’t enjoy sitting down and making stuff up.


I started years ago, but I got serious ten years ago, attending writers conferences, joining writing organizations, interviewing writers and participating in a welcoming critique group through the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America. Never before had I had that kind of support.

Which leads me to say this: If you think you can’t do it, stop reading. But if there is a part of you that wants to find out if you could do it, you’re who I am looking for.

When an idea hits you — like creating another world, or putting a new story into a world you’re familiar with, enjoy. But, if you aren’t having fun, then go knit or start an aquarium or find something else that turns you on.

Above all else, don’t tell me “I think it would be fun but I just don’t have time right now.” You can search the web and read writers’ experiences and comments on that topic. Finding time.

Perhaps the turn on will be a moment when the right person at the right time says the right thing.

“If you write one page a day, in a year you’ll have a book.” Something so simple. But that was the moment for me. When I heard the lack of time commitment, the simplicity, I was hooked.  I had five children under my roof in New Jersey and simply decided to get up earlier and write one hour every morning. My whole day went better. Why? Because my personal goal, my passion for writing would be fulfilled first before my hectic day ever started.

Tons of people who work full-time write their stories while traveling to work on the subways or trains or planes. You do it where you are. When you can. You have to figure it out. Make it happen. I promise you a great ride.

Let your imagination soar. Find your passion. If it’s raising fruit flies, begin there. You hate commuting? Write about a world where teleporting is available. If you have a place where you left your heart, start there.

One last thought. Don’t expect your book to stay within your original parameters. It will take on legs of its own.

During an online class from Gotham Writers, with my book well on its way to being finished, the professor gave us an assignment. “Spend two or more hours researching, discovering information you’ve never seen before.” That research led me and eventually my readers into a world of muti killing, where innocent women and children become victims when their body parts are sold. The final product supposedly brings good luck. Not so much for the victims. And this practice continues today in South Africa.

So my point is do not presume to know what your book is about. There’s more. Much more. Look for it.


One of my all time favorite books is “For Writers Only” by Sophy Burnham.

My copy looks like it’s been drug around for years, traveled to many countries, sat by my bedside, had coffee probably spilled on it, marked up with blue, red and black pens at different stages of my life.  That’s when you know you have a good book.


I had read “A Book of Angels” and when her writer’s book was published, I casually bought it.  Little did I know I would be reading it still years later.

First of all, she writes straight from her heart.

Sophy Burnham is quite honest in the preface. “I didn’t want to write what people would pay me to write, and no one wanted to pay me for what I wanted to write.”  (Sound familiar?) She says that she fell prey to fear and to the inner Judge we are all acquainted with. And so she began this book. I highly recommend it. It’s on Amazon and can be download it to a Kindle. But, honestly, it would be worth it to buy a regular book so you too can mark it up and reread it over and over again.

It has brought me comfort for so many years.

Along with her own misgivings,thoughts and suggestions, as well as her own epiphanies, she stashes a smart collection of quotes that are spot on for a wayward writer. And I believe that we are all wayward in a sense, always seeking the next publishing of our work, always wanting to be taken seriously, always listening to inner voices that can drive one quite mad

So I want to give you a few quotes to stir up your day and make it wonderful.

“One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent any months on a first paragraph, and once I get it,the rest just comes out very easily.” GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ

“You do not even have to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” FRANK KAFKA

“Writers kid themselves –about themselves and other people. Take the talk about writing methods. Writing is just work — there’s no secret. If you dictate, or use a pen or type with your toes — it is just work.” SINCLAIR LEWIS

“Each time I write a book, every time I face that yellow pad, the challenge is so great. I have written eleven books, but each time I think, “Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” MAYA ANGELOU

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” SAMUEL BECKETT

One of my favorite quotes from Sophy Burnham is this one on writer’s block.

“Sometimes it comes from too tight a hold on your imagination. Then you must write something more extravagant. Outlandish. Preposterous. Wild. Break through your own inhibitions and play and dance and sing and shout your verses to the moon. Or else you stop writing what is giving you such trouble and write about the writing that you hate, or the subject that wants to be turned upside down and poured out like stars into the heavens, a Milky Way of nonsense that the creative sense adores. ”

Thanks Sophy for the wonderful work you give to the world.

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