Finding Your Writer’s Voice

Finding your writer’s voice –
So you’ve decided to become a writer.
How do you decide what to write about?

Start with what compelled you to write in the first place. Chances are, you have a passion for something and want the whole world to know about it. You want to share your passion. That’s what you write about. Even if you decide to write an autobiography, it can be full of passion. After all, aren’t we passionate about ourselves? I hope so! So write about your experiences, good or bad, that link to your passion.

Herein lies your writer’s voice.

It’s not an audible voice, but a recognizable pattern of words which will speak to your audience and connect you to your readers. They’ll come to hear you in the way you write; the influence of dialect, the grammar (or lack thereof) and style, as if they were listening to spoken words. So be yourself. Let your audience get to know you. You don’t need to be famous, but you do need to be authentic.

Dr. Seuss. Today you are you...

printable from makingtheworldcuter.com

 

I started out as a writer after three people told me I should write a book about raising my son who’s on the Autism Spectrum. Many people knew my journey through short stories I’d spoken, but encouraged me to write them down to share with others who didn’t know me. Until then, I hadn’t thought of being a writer. But looking back, I remembered I used to love to write fictional stories and poetry. I had simply forgotten. It’s funny how life can get you so far off track.

Maybe you have a similar story to tell. Have others encouraged you to write? Have you always been a writer, even if only in notebooks no one else reads? We all come to this point from different paths. It doesn’t matter how you start out. It just matters that you start.

So  discover what inspires you and type, type, type like crazy. If you want to write a fictional story, check the ‘Inspiring Imagery’ on White Rose Writers’ Pinterest for some ideas.  It’s the board where I pin pics of fantasy and sci-fi and scenes in nature around the world, to encourage writers to get those creative juices flowing. I love the creative mind.

Find books on topics you’re passionate about and read, read, read. Search online for blogs to follow from people who have the same passion. Can you ‘hear’ them in their writing? Do you recognize their ‘voice’?

Write a few blogs, a magazine article, a review of someone else’s work for practice. Save them in docs and don’t worry about editing them. Organize them and file them away for now. We’ll look at what to do with them next time. Just immerse yourself in the process and let it carry you away. Find your writer’s voice.

Enjoy!

Lynne

 

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Where to Begin

I’m not sure if that’s a declaration or a question.
I’ve been writing for about two years. Actually that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve been writing since I was about four – I’ve been writing professionally, that is to say, being paid for what I write, for about three years. So I’m classed as a novice writer with a lot yet to learn. I was told recently by a seasoned author, that we never stop learning as long as we never stop writing. I’m beginning to understand that.
Something else I’ve learned recently about the life of a writer is – to share what I’ve learned with others. I already knew this from a general perspective as a life coach and workshop host, to pass on knowledge to the next generation of people so we, as a global community, may improve life for those to come. It didn’t occur to me to apply it to my writing. I thought I should guard my work from the world until it was acceptable to read, without flaws. And isn’t it self-defeating to share my work, in case someone beats me to the finish line? I’ve learned the answer is “no”. What does it matter if someone steals my idea and creates something from it? Remember – share for the next novice to learn from.
So as I embark on an adventure of literary discovery, I invite you to join me; to wade through these sometimes murky waters, to experience the flow of a river of creative thoughts and ride the waves of joy and excitement with me as we blog, journal, research and publish together.

What I learned first:
• You can’t call yourself a writer if you’re waiting to get better at it. If you’re waiting – then you’re a waiter, not a writer. So just start writing!
• Practice calling yourself a writer. If you’ve written your first sentence of a 300 page novel – congratulations – you’re a writer!
• Don’t let anyone steal your dream – not even you. If someone says you can’t make a living at it, or pretty much gives you the impression of “who do you think you are”? don’t buy into that. Ignore them or have a good answer ready. I know many people who earn full-time pay from writing.
• Research what you’re writing about; whether it’s a novel, a series of blogs, a magazine article or a collection of thoughts you don’t yet know what to do with, you need to be able to link, accredit and support what you say. If you’re writing an historic novel for example, you’ll need to know all you can about the aspects of life at that time in history. Keep your information in a file specific to that piece, for future reference. Fans may be interested in where you learned about your story line.
• Set a schedule for yourself. Be realistic in how many hours a day, how many days a week, you want to devote to writing. Use a filing system on-line, on your PC or laptop, or a calendar pinned to your work station with different couloured sticky notes. Whatever works for you. Be prepared for unexpected intrusions and don’t get your knickers in a knot over them.

 

I would like to end this first Building a Writing Platform by sharing from a book I recently purchased,Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. On being an amateur writer, Kleon writes;
“Don’t worry, for now, about how you’ll make money or a career of it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you”.

 

So how did I do?
As you start your literary journey, I hope you’ll keep in touch. Let me know if this post helped you. Leave a comment or a question. I’d love to hear from you. – Lynne

Clean-Up After the Ice Storm

Finally – Spring! Hopefully you won’t have as much clean-up to do this spring as we do here in Ontario. The December ice storm devastated several of our trees and left a mass of broken branches and debris everywhere. Fortunately, we didn’t lose any specimen plants and most of our trees can be salvaged with a lot of creative pruning.

2014. Ice Storm Devestation #1

 

4102Our grandsons came to stay with us during the clean-up time and helped us with the mess. Their mum had bought them rope to do with as they pleased in the forest after they helped, so they decided they would tie it as a safety rope across the river where a large tree had fallen, creating a perfect bridge!

 

After we spent over a week cleaning up the fallen branches (aka ‘progging’), I finally took stock of the gardens. I was overjoyed to see that my Lenten Rose had survived the extremely long winter and exceptionally cold temperatures this year. This is not my own Lenten Rose. You can see more of The Shire photos on our website at: thewhiterosewriters.com Here, I wanted you to see a professional photo of how beautiful the Lenten Rose truly is. The leaves are green under the covering of snow and, before the thaw, these magnificent blooms reach out from the snow to greet you with the promise of spring.

Lenten Rose
from southernliving.com

Every year we have an invasion of those plants we love but can’t control. We’re currently battling a sea of Bugleweed in the clearing, and the plant I really hate to love; Lily of the Valley. The clusters are so beautiful in spring when the shaded wood lot is mostly dormant, but the plant is so invasive if you don’t want it to spread.

One way to rein in the offending invaders is to plant them in container insert pots and bury the pot flush with the soil surface. Make sure the pot has holes for drainage and water retention within the garden. This will hold back plants which multiply by tubers or spreading roots. You can divide them in spring if the pot becomes crowded or move them to a bigger pot. These plants are great as fast-growing groundcover, but will overtake an area quickly if not kept in check.

 

Two of my favourite ground covers are the English Bluebell and the Forget-Me-Not.  Every year I split these after they bloom and fill in bare spots at the woodland edge. They self-seed and are very hardy. The following year I’m blessed to see they’ve usually doubled in number.

 

When your spring bulbs have finished blooming, here’s a tip for next spring:

Take your bulbs and plant them either directly in the garden using the layering method, or plant them in a container and place the container in the ground to over-winter the bulbs. In spring, take the container out of the ground if you choose as soon as the ground thaws, and water thoroughly; or leave the container in the garden until the blooms are all spent. This will give you a continuous show of colour next spring and you’ll find that the bulbs will multiply for you to expand your collection or share with friends. They make wonderful gifts.

Spring layer planting
worldingreen.blogspot.com

Place approximately 2” of potting soil in the container. Layer your bulbs starting with the largest ones which need to be planted deepest. Put 1” of soil on top of them then your medium-sized bulbs, being careful not to place them directly above the first bulbs. 1” of soil covering these then your smallest bulbs above them. Cover the top layer of bulbs with 2-3” of soil to the rim of the pot and pack down lightly.

I like to use crocus, tulips and daffodil.

I hope you’re enjoying the much-anticipated warmer weather if you’re in spring time where you live. We had a harsh five months of arduous temperatures here, so we’re happy to finally don short sleeves and sandals. If you’re somewhere in winter right now, well, God Bless you. I’m really happy I’m not where you are.

Blessings from The White Rose Shire,

Lynne

Before Winter Ends

I know – you’re in a rush to get out there and start planting and pruning! But before you get carried away, before all that white fluffy stuff disappears, bundle yourself up and step outside for a few moments. Take your camera along.

Now, just look around you at your garden. What does it say to you? Is it appealing to the eye even in the bleak vastness of winter? Is your imagination sparked by the snowy hills and shadows cast by majestic trees? Do you see whimsy in the waving tall grasses that have withstood the throes of ice storms? Do you need to make some changes before next winter? If your garden looks like a white vastness of nothing, consider making some changes this spring to invite the viewer to be astonished at your winterscape next Fall.

This is our tiny bush in the ice storm at Christmas

3621

Start with the basics, the framework of your garden. You can’t see the shoots of beautiful blooms yet, only the bare skeleton of something about to happen. In order to attract more than a mere glance during what, for many of us, is a loooong freezing time from November to April, we need things happening even in the dormant time. Take photos of your garden from every angle, especially where the garden is visible from the driveway and front room. Are there any bare patches? You want to be beckoned even when the temperature says, “Don’t be crazy. Stay inside with a hot pot of tea!”

If you have bare patches devoid of any interest, try to envision what would fill the area well. What draws you into a garden that you don’t currently have in yours? If you’re stuck for ideas, take a drive around the neighbourhood. If you’re hibernating, bless you, and start a Pinterest board of gardens that inspire you.

(Check out my personal Pinterest board called Garden Designs. I started this last year to keep me inspired). You may not have a large area to work with, but even a small garden can be inviting in winter.

A few ideas of things to add for interest:

Bushes retain their shape and the branches hold snow quite well to form a lovely orb.

Mounding perennials will peek up through the snow like many fingers breaking through winter.

A statue or other art form sends its own unique invitation to linger.

Tall, dry grasses are one of my favourite things in winter. Their flowing stalks wave a promise of spring and the contrasting gold against white is magnificent.

If you have room, an arbor is a beautiful welcome, tall above the snow, even if you daren’t venture out. Maybe you’ll cover it with a vine in spring. The dried vine in winter will tell its own tale.

If you’re a lover of wildlife, consider a few bird feeders or squirrel banquets on rustic outdoor tables. The furry and feathered guests will be grateful and offer endless hours of entertainment in appreciation.

32 Snow Covered Hanging Bird Feeder

Once the flowers are gone, cover your hanging baskets with evergreens and sprinkle bird seed on top of the snow-covered dirt. Our chickadee loved this.

Colour can add a delightful change against a clean, blank canvas. Garden Centres which are open year round, will carry many interesting ornaments and colourful statuaries.

A focal point should keep you going through the harsh months and keep you excited for the new life in spring. Stay true to what you love and all your visitors will love your garden too.

 

 2116

Our bistro set on the front porch, awaiting tall cold drinks and hot summer nights. You can see the frozen Burning Bush to the left, covered in ice. 

Chin up! We’re almost there!

Lynne

Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son

I have many lesser passions in life, those things which bring me joy and I seek after wholeheartedly for a time, but I have four great passions in my life which drive my whole being and much of what I do. One of these passions is for Autism Awareness.

My passion for this comes from raising a child with autism. Benjamin is a grown man now, so I know the journey parents take with their autistic children; the highs and the lows, the struggles and the triumphs. I hope I can bring a few smiles and a sense that the challenges they sometimes face are all worth the joy their children will bring into their lives.

This post is taken from my book, ‘Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son’.

“For a long time, Benjamin was called ‘Baby’ by everyone in the family. So he referred to himself as ‘Baby’ too. With two older sisters doting on him, the name stuck through most of the toddler stage. When he wanted anything, he would point to it and say “Baby”, and his sisters would, of course, get it for him.

As Benjamin got older he started to realize that his name was no longer ‘Baby’ but now ‘Benjamin’. However, I wasn’t having much success teaching him his surname. When I would ask him his name I’d get an odd look as if I didn’t know what his name was anymore. He’d say “Benjamin” but he wouldn’t say his surname. Instead, seeing as I was persistent that he have another name as well as Benjamin, he decided that his last name would be ‘Frog’. I’ve no idea why. He doesn’t even remember why. It was just what he chose for whatever reason. I’ve often wondered if it’s because, even at a young age, he realized he was ‘different’…”

Benjamin’s sister, Anna, found this in her notes from her university class on Children’s Literature; – on ‘Liminality’…

“Frogs are very liminal creatures. They exist on the threshold between two worlds; part of both, part of neither.”

You can read more in ‘Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son’

Available from the White Rose Writers/Book Store

Or from amazon

Raising an Autistic Child

I’m currently updating my first published book, the story of being a mother with an autistic child. I thought it would be good to share with you my first blog from four years ago, which is an excerpt from the introduction of the book. You can still get a copy of the first edition but some of the links are no longer available.

“My Autistic Son

As this is my first blog, I thought I’d post the introduction from my first book, Raising Benjamin Frog–A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son.

My son, Benjamin, was non-verbal as a small child and was later identified as having High-Functioning Autistism. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as he grew older.

The passage describes my feelings as I watched him, detached from my world…

Where do you go to, My Sunshine? 

You have the most beautiful blue eyes, my handsome baby boy. Why can’t I see you behind them? Where do you go when your eyes wander away from me?

I hold you in my arms and stroke your tiny face, run my fingers through the yellow strands falling across your brow and I search for a glimpse of soul connection, but you are nowhere to be found.

If I let go of your small hand you’ll run away or you’ll walk in an endless straight line and not care where you’re going. You won’t see the people on the path in front of you or the tree that blocks your way. You won’t run excited to play with the other children on the swings because they’re not there in your world.

We walk by the lake. I point at the birds, gracefully gliding, skimming over the lapping waves. A young puppy barks and, for an instant, I see a puzzled frown on your tiny forehead, then it’s gone.

I show you the delicate, colourful blue petals of the Forget-Me-Not and we stop for a while to listen to the rustling of the birch. But you walk where I walk and stop when I stop only because I hold on tightly to your little fingers so you don’t slide down the bank and disappear. You have no response to these wonders around you.

I tell you how God made all these things. How He loves you and created you as part of His masterpiece too. How you have a purpose in this life and how I’ll do my best as your Mummy to help you find that purpose He has planned for you. But you don’t seem to hear a word. You just stare into the distance.

We walk back on the path and I sing to you “Forever Young.” You don’t sing along or dance in circles around me giggling. But oh how I love you my Sunshine.

Where do you go to, my sweet baby boy, when your eyes wander away from me and you’re lost in your autistic world.

Benjamin is now 30 years old and a published author himself! My book talks about the struggles we both had as he was growing up, the highs and lows of his formative years, and the blessings he has brought to my life.”

 

https://lynnecollier.com/raising-benjamin-frog/raising-benjamin-frog-by-lynne-collier/
‘Raising Benjamin Frog–A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son’ by Lynne Collier

 

For a closer look at autism from Benjamin’s perspective and to see what he’s up to now, visit his blog at

benjaminfrog.wordpress.com