Reading and Writing
Today’s post is from Tina Welling, author of Fairy Tale Blues, Crybaby Ranch, and Cowboys Never Cry. I met Tina via email when I wrote to tell her how much I enjoyed Cowboys Never Cry. She graciously offered to do a guest post and I was delighted to accept. Not only that, she’s giving away a signed copy of Cowboys Don’t Cry to a lucky reader who comments on her post. So, please be sure to tell us what you think!
For more information on Tina, visit her website at www.tinawelling.com.
And, as always, thanks for dropping by. Now, here’s Tina…
Life is a good news/bad news situation. The bad news is that we are all going to die someday (I’m sorry to just blurt that out like that). The good news is that we get to live until we do. While I was writing my novel COWBOYS NEVER CRY, I became aware that writers need to live more fully than their readers. We must be exquisitely aware of ourselves and our surroundings and the life force that throbs within us in order to evoke that in readers.
Some writers in the past have thought that living fully meant drinking a lot, eating exotic foods, having many lovers, traveling to foreign places, and putting themselves in life-threatening danger. A full life, as many viewed it, was found at the extremes. I think of Ernest Hemingway running with the bulls, deep sea fishing, big game hunting, and then returning home to use the material for his writing. These activities appeared to be living life to the hilt to readers who were struggling through a world war or the Depression that followed. Limited choices described the daily lives of most people during those times. Now most everyone can experience drinking a lot, eating exotic foods, having many lovers, traveling to foreign places, and life-threatening danger is as close as the nearest expressway.
I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where much of the population enjoys outdoor adventures on a daily basis – extreme skiing, mountain climbing, backcountry hiking. My hometown audience gets their reading adventures by just picking up the newspaper. I thought about this as I wrote COWBOYS NEVER CRY and I decided that readers still desire to have their novels be about experiences that are not easily accessible to them, yet that desire has changed from a broader experience of life to a deeper experience of life.
My goal was to incorporate that idea in COWBOYS NEVER CRY.
While writing with humor – because everything is more fun when you’re laughing – I also told a story of people’s lives that held an intensity and fullness and intimacy uncommon to many of us. But a writer can’t fake that anymore than Hemingway could fake running with the bulls. A writer must experience the wild edges of aliveness in order to write about them with vivid truth.
Once, in writing about the stars overhead, a writer could express knowledge about their configurations and the myths and legends behind them to reach deeply into their reader. Now as a writer, I need to know the stars in my body, feel them burn my skin, sense their light pinning me to the planet. If I can do that, the vibrancy and authenticity that only come from true experience will ignite those same feelings in the reader.
So if life is a good news/bad news situation, both reading and writing can lead to more of the good news, experiencing life more fully.