Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Like Riding a Bike...

What do bicycling and writing have in common? You have to learn to do both. And when you fall, actually or metaphorically, the best thing to do is get back on the bike (or back at the keyboard) and keep writing.

I'm working on a book. It started as a book about Nicole's accident (if you're new to my blog, and don't know who Nicole is or what happened to her, you can read all about it here.) I've been working on the book off and on for five years or so. When I'm not writing, I'm going to writing workshops. Or publishing workshops. Or any other kind of workshop that will help me figure out how to write this book.

The first workshop I went to was a Creative Nonfiction Writing workshop. I learned how to write true stories that read like a novel. Bam! That's what I wanted to do. I will write all the facts, but in a style that keeps the reader engaged. Much like my writing buddy NancyKay Sullivan Wessman did with her book, Katrina, Mississippi: Voices from Ground Zero. The biggest difference in our books is that Katrina wasn't about her. She spent years interviewing upwards of 100 first responders and other "champions of the storm" to get a real-life account of the folks who had their boots on the ground before, during and after the feasting hurricane. My story, however, is about me. It's about what happened to my daughter, and as a result, what happened to me. I've learned, in the course of my workshop attending, that my book will be a memoir. It took me awhile to get to that point.

In the meantime, when possible, I try to apply my new Creative Nonfiction writing skills when I write articles. It makes it more interesting for me to write the articles, and hopefully, it's more interesting for those who read them.

But there are times when the story is interesting enough. The subject matter matters, and the people I interview are passionate about what they're doing. This happened recently when I wrote a story about a cool new cycling program at Highland Elementary School in Ridgeland for the Madison County Herald.

It was an assigned story, and the initial contact was with the school's PTO, Sissy Lynn. She was pumped about the program, and she followed through right away with her promise to send me a list of contacts. She delivered alright, having already contacted each of them to let them know I'd be calling (that NEVER happens!). Each person was easy to reach (amazing, since one of them was the busy mayor of Ridgeland, Gene McGee, an avid cycler and supporter of the program). The story pretty much wrote itself, because everyone gave me such good information and quotable quotes.

That story was a exception to the norm. They don't all come together that easy. But with each story, I get back up on my bike and pedal as hard as I can to get it done. Once you learn how, they say, you never forget. With each story I write, I learn something new while reminding myself that I really can do this.

Possible new *big* project coming up soon. Stay tuned!