Friday Speak Out: Writing - It’s There When I Need It, Guest Post by Marci Mangham
Writing - It’s There When I Need Itby Marci Mangham
My life took what you might call a turn for the worse about a year and a half ago. My physical and emotional health suffered, and I’m still trying to put myself back together. One of the things I left behind was my writing. It wasn’t by choice or planned; it simply fell by the wayside, along with many other things that made me happy and healthy. I was advised to put my feelings in writing, which made perfect sense. Even if I didn’t have any fictional tales brewing inside of me, at least I could write about my pain. No one ever had to see it, but it would be cathartic. Writing as therapy. But I couldn’t even bring myself to do that.
As I slowly began to emerge from the darkness, I started to wonder about myself. How could I call myself “a writer” if I didn’t turn to writing during the dark times? How could I be “a writer” if it didn’t come naturally to me, if I didn’t NEED it? I read about so many other writers who need to write to feel whole. They would write on the sidewalk in chalk if pen, paper and computers ceased to exist.
Years ago I wrote a novel that in the end I decided was terrible, and I threw it in a Dumpster. I didn’t write for a few years after that. When I started again it wasn’t really a decision. I just began, and it felt natural. Eventually I realized that I had enough short stories to put together a collection, and I published it. It seemed so easy at the time: write stories, enter contests, publish book.
A few months ago I suddenly felt that I needed to end the dry spell. I entered a 24-hour short story contest; I felt the challenge of having 24 hours to finish, and the starting point of a prompt was just the right recipe. I was right. After a slow start, the words began to flow again…naturally. What was wrong with me those preceding months?
I got an honorable mention for that entry, but the real accomplishment was getting my perspective back. Sure, it feels good to have gone a few rounds my nemesis writers block and won. But most of all I realized that I don’t control my writing; it controls me. I know I can’t force it, and I can’t keep away from it when I need it. While I may envy those who spend hours every day, writing any and every chance they get, I realize that I am not like them. Writing means different things to all of us, serves different needs at different times and durations.
Whether I spend every day of the next three years finishing the novels I’ve started, or if I don’t eke out another short story for five years, I will embrace the process of writing, and the end result, whenever it graces me with its presence. Marci has been writing (when the mood strikes!) for 29 years. Her short story collection, "Both Ends Burning," was published in 2007. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her neurotic dog, Charlie. For more information, visit www.marcimangham.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
Labels: Friday Speak Out, guest post, Marci Mangham, writing inspiration
Marci Mangham Publishes her first Book!
Congratulations Marci! We're thrilled and can't wait to read it! As you all know, Marci won our hearts with her flash fiction story, The Wedding Zinger
, which placed Third in our Spring 2007 Contest! It's always great to hear it when a WOW!
alumni member publishes a book, so we urge all of you ladies to check it out and send Marci your kudos.
Here's a synopsis of Both Ends Burning
A kaleidoscope of villains and heroes - including a teenage dreamer, a grieving widower, a persistent ghost, a perplexed amnesiac, a reluctant Mafioso, and a mythical creature with a penchant for story telling - waits to entertain you in this varied collection of short stories.
Fantasy, comedy, the supernatural, death, growing up, and even a little romance are woven throughout. There are recollections from the past, stories of the present and musings on the future.
Each of the stories inhabits a unique world, even those with common themes and recurring characters. The characters within are quirky, troubled, floundering, somber, goofy, and some are just plain evil. But what connects them to one another, and to each of us, is their humanity. Both Ends Burning
is available at http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.asp?bookid=43613
Check out Marci's new website for more updates: http://www.marcimangham.com
Labels: Both Ends Burning, Marci Mangham, Short Story Collection
Marci Mangham Won Third Place in our Spring 2007 Flash Fiction Contest for her story, "The Wedding Zinger
had a chance to catch up with Marci and see what she's been up to. Marci is super! We think you'll really enjoy this interview.WOW: Marci, congratulations to you for your 3rd Place Win! How does it feel to be in your shoes? Marci:
Well, I've never won anything before but a pair of Psychedelic Furs concert tickets in 1984, and a ham at a company Christmas party years ago. And I don't eat ham. This was the first thing I've ever submitted, anywhere, so it's an honor to have been chosen as the 3rd place winner. It feels great! WOW: That’s wonderful! You were definitely overdue. So, tell us what inspired the idea behind “The Wedding Zinger”? Was there anything from real life inside your story?Marci:
Oh, nothing from my real life, thank goodness! Though an old friend from school wrote to me and said that, sadly, it seemed like something that would happen to one of us. I couldn't really pinpoint what inspired my idea. I just knew that I didn't want to write something predictable, like the groom turning out to be an ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, etc. I suppose I have a penchant for the unconventional. WOW: Unconventional can be refreshing to read, as it was in your case. Does this unconventional trend carry over into the unpublished novel that you mentioned in your bio? Could you share something with us about the book? And tell us, do you plan to pull it out in the future and send it out? Marci:
Well, there's not much to tell. It was a semi-autobiographical novel, but with a twist. And the main character was male. I definitely won't send it out because it ended up in a dumpster years ago when I decided it was garbage. This was pre-computer, and I had spent a year writing it in a spiral notebook, then transferring it to a word processor (not a PC!) Then later I did the dastardly deed. I will never do anything like that to anything I've written, ever again, no matter how bad I think it is. I guess I learned a valuable lesson. WOW: Unfortunately, I think many of us can relate to that kind of deed. So, let’s forget that you did it and move on to entirely different subject! How about outside support? Have you found any books or authors who you deem more helpful that others for your writing?Marci:
Not so much, as far as technical writing reference, but I actually try to take something from every author I read. For instance, someone like Stephen King--who I actually wouldn't even think to list as a "favorite author"--helps me realize that one truly is only limited by his or her imagination. And boy, does he have one. I love reading Stephen McCauley. That guy pours so much humanity into his writing that it's almost painful--whether poignant or just plain funny. And I would love to soak up as much as possible from, say, an Alice Sebold or Wally Lamb. Good stuff. WOW: Thanks for the suggestions. Now, I have a couple of new names to check out. To get back to your writing, do you have specific long-term goals?Marci:
I barely have specific long-term goals for my HAIR! But for right now, I just want to get my self-published, oh wait that's subsidy/vanity-published, collection of short stories completed. After that, I hope to concentrate on the novel based on one of them, and maybe go the traditional route of sending query letters, etc. Then I'll see where that takes me!WOW: I’d say that’s quite a goal, and we wish you well, here! I think you have another goal we need to ask you to share. Of course, we learned in your bio that you intend to go back to school. Do you care to share these education goals with us?
(Inquiring minds love to know what other writers are doing.) Marci:
I am hoping to find my way as I go along, but I'd better formulate a plan at some point! I have to start from scratch, so I've got a little time. Knowing my preferences and aptitudes, I'm leaning toward behavioral/social sciences, maybe psychology. I think it would be terrific to have my own practice, specializing in counseling grieving pet owners, since that is a type of grief that is not universally understood. Just to validate people’s grief does wonders...But anyway, I'm not even sure yet if I can be a good student again, so I'm getting a little ahead of myself. I could very well flunk Math ten times over and fail miserably. Like many people who write, numbers aren't my thing. WOW: I can certainly relate to that, but you might surprise yourself! Since numbers aren’t your gig, though, let’s get back to the writing. Could you tell us a little about the short story collection you’re publishing later this year?Marci:
Well, it's kind of all over the place, which is one reason I'm not even trying the traditional publishing route. And of course there's no real market for short story collections from unknown, novice writers. Some of the stories are quite dark, and some (I hope) are kind of comical. And a few are in between. I might have even mastered "touching" in one or two, which is hard for me. I expanded "The Wedding Zinger" and will be including it. In reading it recently, I discovered some common themes: ghosts, death, dreams, gender confusion and karma. What that says about me, I couldn't tell you! I write from male and female perspectives, first and third person. Actually, I even wrote from a dog's point of view, in second "person." It's starting to all sound a little schizophrenic now... WOW: Oh, no, don’t use that word! As writers we’ve earned the creative license to experience worlds through various pairs of eyes. We gain wisdom this way, at least I like to think so. So, any final words of wisdom for our devoted readers? Marci:
Gosh, I really don't have any, except I will say that if you're writing and sharing your words with no one but Microsoft Word, step out into the world! Send in stories for contests like this, or just share something with a friend. You'll be glad you did. That said, I need words of wisdom, so please, I'm open to them. :) Feel free to send your wise words to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
. Thanks.WOW: It’s been a pleasure interviewing you, Marci. We wish you well with all your writing and educational goals! Thanks ;-)
Labels: flash fiction contest winner, interview, Marci Mangham