I am a nonfiction advocate in a 200-year old entrenched tradition of poetry and fiction. Memoir, essays, humor essays, articles, book and movie reviews. I was told once I should write a novel. I can’t. I’m too hooked on true-life stories. I’m inspired by people’s lives – living, breathing, surviving, and coming out standing on their feet. I even have a special bookshelf for my favorite memoirs that inspire me.
Singing was my first love. In college and beyond, I had coaching by great teachers and sang as soloist and with major chorales and orchestras. Unfortunately, my parents would not support my dream. They wanted me to get a reliable job back in the day when typing was the good gig. I decided on an English major.
I tried painting recently. Loved it. But I also knew it would take years to be excellent at it – and “just good” was not enough for me. I do believe my watercolor class taught me about the layers of creativity – a parallel between painting and writing.
In all those years, I wrote. I read nonstop. In college, my professors encouraged me. A visiting poet liked my work as editor of the magazine. There were hints along the way.
The writing never went away. As a wife and mother, I joined writers’ groups. As a computer specialist, I wrote manuals for education. Later, as a substitute teacher, I built a writing business on the side. I think I made $200 the first year. After a few years, I gave it up to work a “real” job to support myself.
With retirement from event planning for and promoting other authors, I literally leapt back into writing: twenty plus essays, reviews, articles, a website and a blog, three full-length memoirs. Mama was on fire! To my utter surprise, magazines and blogs started grabbing them up.
I am a “seat of your pants” writer, a pantser, they call it. I spill the whole thing out on paper (word doc) and then stare at it, hoping it means something. Not such a bad way to go on short pieces but a real b—- on book projects. Next, I look for theme, takeaway, the reason to even write it. For stories I’ve had in my head for years, it works well. For new ideas, I find I need to research what others say on a topic to define where I stand on it.
I have a fascination with layers. I discovered that the first draft is a hodge-podge, the second draft – a little less of a mess, while drafts 3-10 begin to yield gradual light. It was in my watercolor class that I saw the revelation of that. You cannot, I say, cannot, skip over a layer. You have to allow the layers to develop. Requires patience.
I believe the mental/emotional process of taking breaks between drafts – letting your brain/heart work on it – is also an important part of composing.
Kaye Curren writes nonfiction for various blogs and magazines. She used to write computer manuals but now writes humor, personal essays, human interest stories, and memoir as well as book and movie reviews. Her guest posts are featured on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop site, humorwriters.org, LiteraryMama.com, and GRAND Magazine. Kaye also has essays in an Erma Bombeck and a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology. Her first ebook, Memories A La Carte, Essays on a Life, is available on Amazon. Find her musings on her website/blog at writethatthang.com.
Affiliations: Bear River Writers Conference, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Nonfiction Authors Association, National Association of Memoir Writers, Women Writers of Ann Arbor/Ypsi.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters