Tag Archives: passion

Passion and Knowlege: writing foes or companions?

My Dear Hubby runs a farm implement dealership.  He started at the bottom and moved his way up.  As a teen he mowed the lot.  After college he took care of the lawn and garden division.  Over the years, he worked in parts, sales and service before stepping into the big office.

He earned his position through experience and is a great manager because of it.  He knows the business and cares about it deeply.  His lot always looks fabulous, his showroom floor organized and tidy, his employees perfectly matched for their positions.

During our 17 year marriage, I’ve watched other managers fail miserably at running a dealership.  The number one reason is lack of experience as a well-rounded employee.  They are businessmen who don’t get or care about a farmer’s timeline.  They have no passion for the ag industry, but signed on for the office job.  In short, they are not passionate enough to learn the nuances involved in running a dealership. 

A business degree is a bit like research in the writing world.  It gives a basis of understanding.  It teaches you the facts.  And it leaves you ill prepared to tackle a dealership on your own.  Some things just need to be experienced to be learned.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen discussion in the cybersphere regarding experience versus research.  In the writing world, it is often said, “Write what you know.”  The flipside of that argument is, “Write what you are passionate about.”

Just Jemi asked a valid question on her blog the other day: Are fearful people better horror writers because they KNOW fear?

Regarding tragic stories: Can we effectively portray a character and situation if we have not lived through the tragedy ourselves?

What about disabilities or prejudice or chronic illnesses?  Can writers write authentically without experiencing these things first hand?

I’ve thought long and hard over these questions and have concluded that this is not really a black and white issue.  It is not a matter of running a dealership with a business degree and no experience/passion or running it with all experience and no formal education. 

It is not knowledge versus passion.

Sometimes research/knowledge is sufficient–if it goes beyond google and wiki.  Want to know what it’s like to be blind?  Strap on a blindfold the second you wake up and don’t take it off until you’re in bed for the night.  This can give you the teeny, tiniest taste of being visually impaired. 

Fear?  No amount of research, in my mind, can allow a writer to truthfully write about fear.  “Her heart raced.”  Ugh.  Of course it did.  The physical aspect can be researched until the second coming of Christ.  But until someone has smelled their own sour sweat, felt that trickle of urine as it ran down their legs or tried to reason through the irrational to no avail, a writer will never accurately portray fear on paper.  They will lose the voice of authenticity and come off sounding crass and condescending.

Other topics are a matter of degree.  Does a writer have to be raped to understand the feelings of fear, guilt, shame and hatred that follow a sexual assault?  I don’t think so.  Being the victim of inappropriate touch is enough to elicit those same feelings.  Careful research can do the rest.

And sometimes, the closer a writer is to the topic, the more poorly they write about it.  They have no distance and can’t separate themselves from their writing.  Their stories become agendas.  Conversely, a lack of passion for a topic comes off like a bad blind date.  Everyone is uncomfortable and can’t wait to bail.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that balance is the key and every topic requires a different approach.  The best writing is a combination of research, experience and passion.  Compassion and empathy can go a long way if writers care about their topics.  When paired with solid research, the story thrives. 

A business degree doth not a manager make.  Rather, it enhances the experiences employees bring to the dealership.  In writing, research enhances the knowledge, passion and experience a writer brings to the project.  Without both, we will fail to grasp the nuances that can make or break our bottom line.

The Word from the Woods: Write what you know AND are passionate about.  Use research to strenghthen your experiences, not to bypass them altogether. 

Okay, I’ve blathered on about my opion.  What’s yours?


The last vestiges of snow melted from my backyard yesterday, leaving me with a view of spring.

Crumbled leaves, broken flower stems and matted grass litter my little corner of heaven.  My passion for spring runs deep.  I love the pungent odor of newly turned soil, the cleansing scent of spring showers and the perfume of fresh blooms.  My fingers itch just typing this.

In much the same way, I love editing a newly finished manuscript.  There is so much debris that needs swept aside, words that can be cut and hauled away, scenes that can be transplanted and new ideas incorporated to flesh out the story. 

Gardening and editing are two of my favorite things.  They both require creativity and organization.  And when they are complete, the end product is delightful.  My garden is my favorite place to write.  It inspires me.  My writing is always richer when I’ve had a chance to phyically mold and shape my outdoor office.

I cant imagine one without the other.

What are you passionate about?  How does your other passion complement your writing?  How is the process of each similar?

Didn’t Feel Like It

Yesterday, with my Taxi Hat firmly atop my head, I asked my DD how her friend’s solo audition had gone.  Friend wants to be a singer.  She takes lessons, plays guitar and has a beautiful voice.  Not to mention she’s cuter than a mushroom button and has a great personality.  If anyone has the whole package from this tiny, little blip on the map, she does.

DD responded, “Oh, yeah, she didn’t audition.”

The reason: she didn’t feel like singing yesterday.

My other Taxi Passenger, DD’s 13 year old friend, said, “Well, what’s she gonna do when she’s all famous and has a show scheduled?  Not perform because she doesn’t feel like singing that day?”

Anyone with a dream can learn a lot from my young Taxi Passenger. 

Dreams can be realized with hard work, practice, patience, perseverence and putting ourselves out there.  We have to make our passions a priority.  (Wow, talk about alliteration!)  Everyday.

Some writer’s get fiesty when they believe their fellow scribes are not willing to put in the time, yet insist on instant gratification without the work.  In a recent discussion, one asked in this paraphrased kind of way, “If I was a dentist could I just shrug and tell my patient, oops, guess I don’t feel like drilling today?” 

Of course not.  We expect everyone else around us to be professionals, yet in the back of our minds, we may still prescribe to the romantic notion of the mysterious writer in the smoking jacket, penning The Great American Novel on a scrap of toilet paper.  Those days are long gone, my friehnds. 

What separates the wanna-bes from the professionally aspiring writers is the ability to write, edit and submit–even if we don’t feel like it.

There is a huge, slushy mess of a problem when so many people want to be writers without putting in the time.  Slush piles can grow so large that editors and agents cannot possibly read every submission that comes their way.  For many agencies and houses, this has created a closed submission policy.  Some publishers only want agented work.  Agents only want referred clients.

Hmmmm.  Hard to break in.

Yet, I also feel a stirring of hope.  While the odds are something crazy (and yes I’m totally making it up based on something I read and kind of remember) like only 1-2% of all submissions actually get published, I firmly believe that professionally aspiring writers must somehow be in the top 5% of submissions.

Dreams can be realized for those who put in the time.  With hard work and practice, we hone our craft and become better writers.  With patience and perseverence, we can stay ahead of those who give up when they don’t quite feel like writing.  

And that leaves putting ourselves out there.  It means standing up to the microphone and letting the world know that we have what it takes to be an author.

The road is not smooth.  But that’s okay, very few people in life ever skate to greatness without making their passion a priority.  Funny how my young Taxi Passenger knew that when we adults struggle so hard to grasp it.

Do you believe she’s right?  Is it possible in this day and age of chaos, over-booking and multi-tasking to put our passions at the top of our lists?  What obstacles does this mindset create and how can we overcome them? 

warm fuzzies on a snowy, blowy morning~ cat

Shout Outs Can Open Doors

Last night I had the perfect post in my head.  Somewhere between the teen party and falling asleep with the littles, I lost it.  Which might be okay in the long run, because if there’s one thing I’m not short on, it’s words.  If I can write them down.

By nature, I’m an introvert and do much better conveying myself on paper than in person.  A dream I had last night confirmed it.  In this quasi nightmare,  I was at my in-laws and the whole fam was there.  The house was abustle with seventeen bodies.  I sulked in the corner and watched as kids got dressed to go ice-fishing with the boys and the girls (sisters and mother-in-law) set out crafty stuff and spent the whole afternoon putzing together. 

I’m a lucid dreamer and can consciously alter my dreams as they unfold.  Knowing how wrong the craft party was without me, I stood up from my little corner, all shades of green, and said, “Hey, what about me?”

A small tidbit about  my DH’s sisters and mother, they are not Becky Homeckies in the crafty kind of way.  Painting, gluing, cutting and all out froofrooing for hours on end does not float their boats.  In real life, the project would have had them ripping out their hair in seconds.

Cartoon style, they cocked their heads and murmered things like: Did you hear something?  Nope.  Nothing.  Hmmm.  No big deal.  And they bent their heads back to their tedious task of beading minute glass orbs onto a thin wire.

“Fine,” I said to my dream self and picked up a notebook.  “I have nothing important to add.”  To which dream self snorted and replied, “I work better by myself anyways.”

Now that’s an extreme, but the dream got me thinking about how seldom we writers actually tell people what we do–or aspire to do.   We are either introverted, shy or scared to death to spill the beans in case someone grinds them into paste rather than making a delicious stew.

Two days ago I not only spilled the beans, I threw them in the air like confetti.  I sent an announcement email to a large chunk of family and friends letting them know about my blog.  Over the last year or so, I had made very tiny steps in this direction and have been amazed over the responses.  Much to my delight, support and interest topped the list of comments. 

Yesterday, however, I got an email response that really knocked my socks off.  One of my DH’s Cousins (yep, it was a far-reaching and scary toss of the beans) replied that he KNEW the OWNER of a publishinng company.

 Unbeknownst to him (because he didn’t even know I wrote juvenile lit), it was one I have been seriously considering for a manuscript.  Eeep.  DH’s Cousin offered to INTRODUCE us.  Double Eeep.

My point is this: we should never be afraid to talk about our passions (even if our aspirations include sled dog racing at the North Pole), because someone-somewhere will know someone-somewhere who may be able to help us reach our goals.

That’s not to say that DH’s Cousin’s Friend will be my golden meal ticket (though a girl can dream).  It simply means that networking takes guts and effort.  It is far easier to succeed if the kind, loving and generous people in our lives know how to help us.  Had I sulked in the corner and kept my mouth shut, he couldn’t have put forth his generous offer to introduce us.

It makes a gal wonder how often we squander opportunities to connect with the right people because we say to ourselves, “Self, we have nothing important to add, and we work better by ourselves anyways.”

Do you have success stories about having that proverbial door opened through an unexpected contact? 

If so, we’d like the hear the nitty-gritty.  You never know,  your story might inspire others to step out of the closet and share their dreams.