Monday, August 24, 2015

How I Write Guest Blogger, Mary E. Martin... Her Blog Tour Starts Tomorrow!


















How I Write
By Mary E. Martin

Every writer must develop his or her own creative process. What works for one won’t likely work for another. That is, you have to learn to juggle a thousand concerns—how to grow a plot, create a character, describe a place and write dialogue for those characters—in your own way. 

When asked about my creative process in writing novels, I usually say that I like to find some themes or questions which really interest me. Then I need great characters to explore them through exciting plots and setting. In a way that’s a bit “cart before the horse” because, for me, the themes seem to invent the characters.

   Running through The Trilogy of Remembrance are several major themes. 

What kind of universe do we live in? Is it random and meaningless as we wander through our daily happenings? Or is our universe governed by mysterious and secret forces which we do not yet understand and maybe can never understand? Or perhaps it’s something in between?

What is synchronicity—those events which we so often dismiss as happenstance or coincidence? What, if any, role does it play in our lives? We may try to ignore it but sometimes the event is so breath-taking, we can’t.

In order to explore those themes, I needed two characters—both of them artists. Alexander Wainwright is Britain’s finest landscape painter and his friend and nemesis is Rinaldo, a conceptual artist. These kinds of art and artists are polar opposites and so are their personalities and world views. With that contrast, there was plenty of conflict and friction to drive the plots. 

Why did I choose artists? Why not two accountants? The very act of making art is an attempt to find or make meaning in the world. And so who might be better than two radically different men, different in their art, world views and personality? Wouldn’t they come up with completely different answers?

The master of light, Alexander Wainwright, paints stunningly beautiful landscapes which emanate a numinous light. Those who love his work say that he creates a sense of what lies underneath or behind this phenomenal world—the beyond. Alexander has entered his painting The Hay Wagon into a very major competition—the Turner Prize.

Rinaldo is a leading edge conceptual artist. His entry is the construction of a massive ditch which runs from one end of the gallery foyer to the other. On each side of the ditch are thrown implements of war and bloodied clothing. For the conceptual artist it is the idea that counts. They are completely different kinds of artists.

Other questions naturally arose in writing the novels such as what is the source of creativity within us and how do we work with it? As human beings, we ask ourselves how we figure out the best way to live our lives. That may depend on what kind of world we think we live in—random or secretly ordered. Lots of other questions arose as I wrote. How can the very best and worst of human nature thrive together in one man’s breast? Can a love be so strong that it transcends life and death? One question leads to another. It’s not so much the answers that count but the next questions which arise.

Once I have settled on a few themes, I set out to let it happen. By that I mean I don’t consciously make a plot plan. The characters just seem to lead me and I follow and write down what is happening. If you have enough conflict already built in [such as the extreme differences between Alex and Rinaldo] then potential conflict is easy to find. Another way of saying it—I make it up as I go along!

In posing these kinds of questions, I don’t try to build a case for or against one position or another. Again, I see my role as posing the BIG questions to the characters. And with those kind of questions there can be no conclusive answers and that’s the fun of it. No one can ever really know or prove anything. But I do let the character work to find answers which suits him of her.

Every writer must develop his or her own creative process. What works for one won’t likely work for another. That is, you have to learn to juggle a thousand concerns—how to grow a plot, create a character, describe a place and write dialogue for those characters—in your own way.

When asked about my creative process in writing novels, I usually say that I like to find some themes or questions which really interest me. Then I need great characters to explore them through exciting plots and setting. In a way that’s a bit “cart before the horse” because, for me, the themes seem to invent the characters.

Running through The Trilogy of Remembrance are several major themes.

In these three novels, there’s lots of travelling from London where Alex lives, to Paris, Venice, St. Petersburg and New York City. I also like to have Alex meet various people on his journeys. Although Alex would tell you his inspiration comes from his muse, I know he learns much from these travels and the people he meets. Some quality of mind or spirit within him causes these people to tell him their stories and contemplate their own lives—in fact, existence itself. In his presence, people experience a sense of wisdom but it is very much a two way street. Alex gains as much as they do and he comes away enriched by a profound respect for and love of the human spirit. Alex calls it searching for his light. I call it exploring humanity.

That’s a rough outline about how I go about writing a novel. It works for me, but don’t forget—everybody has to find his or her own way.

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