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Monday, May 17, 2010

When Your Heart Speaks, Take Good Notes


Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to the mother of Greg Mortensen, author of Three Cups of Tea. Dr. Mortensen came to our high school to talk about her son's work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She had two main messages for the students.

1. They get to go to school.
2. When your heart speaks, take good notes.

I could go on about both these lessons, but as this is a writing blog, I'll stick to the latter. I think most people have a good story in them, but for whatever reason, most of them never write it down. There has to be a reason (other than the fact that we writers are mentally insane) that writers sit down and start writing. Maybe we listened to our hearts?

I had to get Hatshepsut's story out of my head. There are a couple novels out there about her and while they're both great, I would read them and think, "No, she wouldn't do that."

Because I think I know a Pharaoh that's been dead for 3,500 years better than anyone else. Snarf.

So I started writing. It was hard and I wanted to stop, but I couldn't. I'm in the same boat with Nitokerty now. It's like pulling all four wisdom teeth at once trying to get words on paper, but I have to get her story on paper or I'll soon be blogging from a padded room.

So that's my story. I'm driven to write by Egyptian Pharaohs who've been dead for millennia. What about you? What forces you to sit down and type? How do you finally get to the point where you can write THE END?

19 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Greg Mortenson came to our high school a couple of years ago. He was awesome!

As for your questions, I'm still discovering the answers. :-)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I love "when your heart speaks take good notes." That's awesome. I need to write that down and put it on my computer monitor.

What makes me sit down and write to the end of the book? Well, before I sit down and begin writing I like to know the beginning and the ending of my story. If I have the ending I have a target to write to. It works for me. :0)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Shannon- It was a great talk- I'm glad his mother was able to share his experiences with my school.

Kathi- I usually have the end in mind too, but then I get bogged down with the middles. Darn those middles!

Amalia T. said...

I feel EXACTLY the same way about Helen. And for that matter, about the books I've read regarding Eve. And Thor. I'm constantly going "Mmm.. that's nice, but no." and feeling like I need to rewrite it at once.

Nothing I've read satisfies me, and I know that I can tell it better. I feel like I KNOW it better. And I always feel like I'm sifting through dirt and digging up truth when I write about these figures, you know? Thanks for putting it into words so well! :)

L.T. Elliot said...

Great advice and I love that you really know your MC. =D

Piedmont Writer said...

I so love the title of this post. That is beautiful and I'm copying it and putting on my bulletin board.

Aubrie said...

I love that quote! Sometimes I don't listen and I really have to.

L. T. Host said...

Usually I'm driven by the idea of the story. It interests me, and I want to know what happens, so I write it.

Your Hatshepsut was/is totally believable, so I do think you nailed it over those other authors :)

Libbie H. said...

With my historical fiction, I'm driven to write because I feel a strong connection to the historical person and want to express how I thought things probably went (as you did with your Hati). With my literary fiction, I need to tell what's going on inside my own head, and a fictional tale is the best way to do it.

I don't know why I feel the need to parade my own issues in front of the world, but I do. I think all writers are lovably pathological, each in his or her own special way.

Taryn Tyler said...

Why do I write? When I can answer that question I will be able to die in peace. writing is a form of discovery. I never know exactly what's in my head until I give it a chance to come out.

Judith Mercado said...

I started writing novels and stories when I couldn't find my own "stories of the heart" out there. One might say, then, that I wrote them for me so I could read them. I remain hopeful though that others will be interested too.

Bane of Anubis said...

Still trying to figure it out :)

Just Another Sarah said...

I don't really know, but I know sometimes when I get that idea in my head, it's all there. I hardly have to work. Then other times, I only get pieces. I'm not sure which works out best.

Jemi Fraser said...

'When your heart speaks, take really good notes' is such incredible advice!

I have a bunch of characters floating around in my head who clamour loudly until they get my attention. Once I let them out things get easier. :)

Dawn Simon said...

I love that: "When your heart speaks, take good notes." But what forces me to sit down and type? Hmm...I love writing and dreaming up stories. Then the stories I come up with have to come out. It's so much work, but it's so fun too! And satisfying.

When can I write THE END? Harder to answer since I've thought projects were finished before they actually were, lol.

Cynthia Reese said...

I love this! Thanks! And I'm glad she's bugging you to write her story. Go for it!

Lauri said...

I think there maybe a bit of synchronicity going on here. You happened upon my blog while I'm in Egypt on a writer's residency- (BTW it is international, perhaps you should apply for next year!)and now I read in your blog about a book I've carried with me to Egypt, Three Cups of Tea, sent to me by my sister in Colorado. The world is oh so small and so very connected. I love it!!

Lauri said...

...oh and my sister is a high school history teacher....

Nishant said...

Great advice and I love that you really know your MC.
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