Writing is a personal profession. We write what we know, use experiences in our lives to add the spices and emotions. If you take pleasure sitting in front of your computer and bringing your characters to life, then you will succeed in your profession. It takes a lot to learn all of the ins and outs. I’ve found that once I know who my characters are, I let them give me their ideas on what is right for the path I put them on. Usually, when I’m not working my scenes right, they stop talking. I listen to the silence and rework the scene until we are all happy.
When obligations take me away, I actually miss my characters. When my muse does go silent, I put on my Phantom of the Opera (Gerry Butler style) CD and it doesn’t take long before the characters start talking again. I’m not sure if it’s because they are tired of hearing the music or it’s because they considered it a treat.
I joined RWA almost nineteen years ago. It’s one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I suggest that anyone who is serious about writing romance should join this great organization and attend as many of the national conferences as they can. My mentor gave me this advice when she told me about Romance Writers of America, and I listened. I’ve lost track of how many RWA conferences I’ve attended, but would guess ten. Beside learning about writing, I’ve loved being able to spend time in so many different towns around our country.
I have found that writers are the best kind of friends. They know emotions and when I needed someone to lean on, it was the writing community that pulled me through the worst time in my life. Over the years, I have found the greatest, and most supportive friends possible.
A bunch of us started The Playground. We are authors scattered across the country, and one in England. Being able to meet up at conferences became one of the reasons why we would attend. We cheered when one of us won an award and hugged when a book was rejected. Support is like a crutch when you’re an author. There are so many emotions you go through writing stories. If you find people you trust and who will be honest with you about your manuscript, I would suggest you join them. The Playground group consisted of twelve of us. We had different strengths and weaknesses. I mostly had weaknesses because I was fairly new and needed a lot of guidance. We all received a precious teddy bear that resembled our hero in the book that was a first sale. I have a Scottish cowboy bear from when I sold Night Angel. He sits by my desk and listens to my idea for plot lines.
When I sold that first book six and a half years ago, a gift came with the contract. I have a writing partner. He has the most marvelous imagination, lots of experiences in writing his 24 books, and we both worked for the same publishing house. We’ve not met in person yet because of those 1,500 miles between our homes. I live in Wisconsin and he lives in Louisiana. Because we can stay in contact by messenger, working together has become the best part of my education. He does not waiver on letting me know he does not like a scene or praises me when he thinks a scene is perfect. I trust his judgement and he trusts mine. We both write romance, but with different styles. He also has polished what I write. I edit his work as an author and I proofed his college work while he studied for his Master’s Degree in Education. I’m mentioning this, because it’s made writing enjoyable for me and could be for you, too. Look for that perfect partner and learn how to communicate as you work toward a perfect story. I practiced writing for twenty-two years, and it’s been the last six and a half where I’ve learned the most. I suppose it comes down to trust.
by: Marlene Urso
A RWA member for almost nineteen years and WisRWA member for four, Marlene Urso is published in historical romance. She lives in Lincoln County with her husband. She served as event coordinate for Sacramento Valley Chapter for thirteen years, which included setting up monthly meetings and welcoming members to the meetings. She has been a member of several online chapters, including From the Heart where she’s been membership chair for the last fifteen years. She is getting acquainted with the Wausau area chapter members and enjoys the monthly meetings. Marlene has always enjoyed doing volunteer work because it gives her a chance to give back to the industry that helped her to achieve her dream of being a published author.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an Hour
William Blake (1757-1827) (English poet, painter and engraver) is one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism. He emphasized individual, imaginative, visionary and emotional creativity. He privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions. He declared in one poem, “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.”
When I was a teenager my father gave me the talk. Not the one on sex, the one on being an individual. I remember his words like he spoke them yesterday and I am sure I might have dared to roll my eyes like my daughters did when I gave them the same speech. “If your friends jumped off the roof, would follow them? Be an individual, be unique, and do what you think is best for you.” I’m not sure he didn’t regret these words at some time in his life because I took them literally and have never followed the crowd.
What I get from Blake’s thoughts is that you should create what’s important to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing a story, picking up a paint brush, taking photos, creating quilts, putting together culinary delights, etc. Creativity is the key. Learn who you are. Do something that makes you unique. Don’t mindlessly follow the crowd. After you are gone, it will be your legacy – an inheritance for your children and friends.
I grew up in a home where artistic talent was everywhere. My mother was not only an award-winning oil painter, but taught herself to play the organ, and also sewed and did needle work. My daughter Kellie inherited her painting talent. Having their artwork proves Blake’s theory. They are no longer with us, but their essence is. I take great comfort in that.
When I make a personalized quilt, each one grows from my own creativity. I can’t explain the joy I receive in making them and then hearing the squeal, feel the hug, or see the happy tears when they are received. Six of my Paradise Pines Series stories and five of my stories in my Northwoods Series are published, and there are five more to come. Now that I have books published, I have a second contribution to romanticism. I love that word now that I know what it means. I’m searching for more ways to continue doing it.
An RWA member for almost eighteen years and WisRWA member for three, Marlene Urso (w/a Paisley Kirkpatrick) is published in historical romance. She lives in Lincoln County with her husband. She served as event coordinate for Sacramento Valley Chapter for thirteen years, which included setting up monthly meetings and welcoming members to the meetings. She has been a member of several online chapters, including From the Heart where she’s been membership chair for the last fourteen years. She is getting acquainted with the Wausau area chapter members and enjoys the monthly meetings. Marlene has always enjoyed doing volunteer work because it gives her a chance to give back to the industry that helped her to achieve her dream of being a published author.