Wednesday Writers Wisdom: As A Writer Part 2 by Jessie B Powell – Our Write Side

I’m glad you asked. I originally started this series to share writing advice with other writers, especially beginning writers. I know when I first started writing again in 2010, I needed a lot of help. So, thus WWW was born. You can expect to find writing advice shared by me, other #ourwriteside authors, and guest authors. Our emails are always available for question suggestions as well. I’d like to start the conversation and answer those questions you must have answers to. After all, this isn’t just OUR Write Side, but it’s Yours, too.

Jessie B Powell

Meet Jessie Bishop Powell

Authoress Powell has generously written a 5 part series for you about her personal writing process she’s gleaned from being published, being active in the writing community, and working under the daily distractions of being a mom of children with special needs, too.

Jessie Bishop Powell grew up in rural Ohio. She now lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband and their two children. She has Master’s Degrees in English and Library Science from the University of Kentucky. Jessie’s first book, Divorce: A Love Story was published as an e-book by Throwaway Lines in 2011. The Marriage at the Rue Morgue , her debut mystery, was released in hardback on Friday, July 18, 2014. The sequel to this, The Case of the Red-Handed Rhesus, will be released in November, 2015.

AS A WRITER (Part 2): Of Drafts. Versions. and Literature

As a writer, I hate drafts. I used to say I didn’t use them. (Of course I did.) I sometimes still insist I don’t. (Of course I do.)  To maintain this doublethink, I tell myself I don’t draft, I write then revise. I’ve jumped on the “versioning” bandwagon. (Of course, that’s the same thing.) Actually, I enjoy revising enormously, because that’s when the story really takes shape. But don’t make me call it drafting, and don’t let me near my own work in the wrong mood.

I’ve always typed, to the point that my initial workaround, back when I was ten and thought I hated reading, was to insist I wasn’t a writer at all. I was a typist. In addition to disliking books, my twisted logic involved my abhorrence of longhand. Besides, I had this gunmetal gray Remington Rand whose whack-da-clack sounded better than Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time.  But my mother pointed out, “You don’t want to be a secretary,” when I asked what I could do for a living with this skill-set.

I decided “writer” had a lot more cachet and immediately composed an entire novel. It was fifty seven pages long and took the better part of a year to finish. I slaved over that thing on my Remington Rand. I let friends, parents, friends’ parents, and total enemies read my work in progress.

I should have paid attention to the fact that even my bullies didn’t make fun of it. (Of course  I showed it to them. I was so fucking naïve.) Instead, what I noticed, three weeks after I finished, was that I’d accidentally plagiarized Star Wars, crossed it with The Goonies, and turned all the main characters into women. It was January. We had a fireplace. I could not fit those pages into the Buck Stove fast enough. I very nearly lit up the chimney.

Mom was more upset because I’d destroyed the fruits of my labor than because I’d nearly burned down the house. Even though she’d read it, she didn’t understand how awful the writing was. I still remember some of the lines. They still make me cringe.

And don’t remind me I was ten; that only makes it worse. I had a sex scene for God’s sake, and a friend’s father had read the thing! I didn’t even know precisely how sex worked, and I had checked ten books out of the library to reach that conclusion! So the encounter began with a lot of kissing and ended with words I will never forget, “He kissed her lips, then her neck, then her breasts. And the rest, I will leave to your imagination.” Every time that pops into my mind, I shudder. The whole book was filled with that kind of tripe.

I do not regret destroying the manuscript.

But when I wrote (and destroyed) my next novel (a plagiarization of Starman featuring a teenaged cast and evil principal), I realized something really important. I sucked. I needed classes if I was going to get better.