Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Pleasure of Writing by Elizabeth S. Craig

Elizabeth’s latest book, Quilt or Innocence, released on June 5. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder.

The Pleasure of Writing

by Elizabeth S. Craig

Sometimes I get bogged down with my deadlines. My writing-related emailing smacks of work, book promoting can be both baffling and exhausting.

Some days, I think it's easy to lose track of why we're writing. It can also be easy to forget why we enjoy it so much.

The last few months have been very busy ones for me. I've dived from writing one book into writing another. I've edited one while brainstorming another, while promoting another's release.

I'm a very task-oriented writer so I've approached my days with lists of what I wanted to accomplish. Goals and to-dos. Scenes sketched out and lists of editing priorities.

But I can't just write to task and not have that spark of excitement and fun in my work. So, because I am so task-oriented, I made another list. This one reminded me what I enjoy most about writing.

I love:

When characters come alive. And when readers email about particular characters as if they were real.

When I'm plugging through a story and following my original plan and an even better idea occurs to me.

When I realize I've got the opportunity for a plot twist.

When the house is quiet and I'm typing away. When I'm so deep in my story that a small sound like my dog's snoring makes me jump.

When a reader says she's read all my books. That just bowls me over.

When I replace a so-so word with an exciting word.

When I laugh while writing a scene. (I've done this in public before. Be careful when you write in public.)

When I can see a fictional setting in my head.

When I sit down to write in the morning and I'm excited about the scene I'm working on next.

This list has kept me focused on why I'm writing. I'm writing because I love it. It's a privilege to share it with others.

As a writer, what do you love best about writing? As a reader, what engages you most with a book?


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Elizabeth, Hello and Welcome!!

This is a wonderful piece. I enjoyed it very much. And, girl, I am loving the cover of your new book (is that Chloe?). Can't wait to read it!

Thanks for being a part of Meanderings and Muses - it means a lot.


Patty said...

Love your list. I'm a reader and what draws me back to a writer or a series is the characters. The best plot in the world will lose me if I can't find at least one character to like and I love it when there are more than one. It is why I'm drawn more to "cozy" mysteries than to thrillers.

lil Gluckstern said...

What engages me most are the characters and the setting. I like to get an internal picture of where things are happening, and I like to feel some kinship on some level with characters (the good guys, of course). Now I have to find your books, and I will.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Kaye--Thanks so much for hosting me! I'll admit to writing in a corgi in the book. :) One very much like my Chloe, although names were changed to protect the innocent--ha! I was surprised and delighted that the artist chose to put her on the cover.

Patty--I'm the same way. I did just finish a thriller and loved the fast pace, but something was missing and I couldn't figure out what it was. It was the deep characterization. I'm thinking the pace was so fast in the book that there wasn't time for the author to develop the characters.

lil--I love that sense of connection with characters, too. And connection with reason why I write the Southern settings I live in. :) And thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas with us. Many of them resonate deeply with me in my own writing. I do thrillers - about espionage and rogue ex-CIA agents, etc. but to me character is foremost - I try to delve as deeply as possible into his or her mind and soul and raisons d'etre. The best thriller writers do this - like Vince Flynn with Mitch and Nelson DeMille with that lovable John Corey. All best, Thelma Straw in Hottest Manhotten - that may get a bit cooler this week.

Lucy Burdette said...

TERRIFIC post and such a good reminder as I'm heading into the home stretch of finishing a book. The book has a long way to go but the deadline approaches...perfect time to remember joy:)

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thelma--You're absolutely right about the best writers (of any genre) giving readers some rounded characters to get acquainted with. And thanks for the reading recommendations! I'll add them to my list. Hope things start cooling off for y'all! It's been quite a summer, hasn't it?

Lucy--Sometimes that road to the finish line seems to stretch out forever, doesn't it? Best wishes for your book!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Elizabeth and Kaye -- Who was it who responded that what they liked best about writing is "having written?" Sometimes I feel that way.

But the high point is when I'm in a quiet place and have become the character I'm writing about, so the words flow as though I'm writing about myself. That's so cool!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Patricia--Ha! Yes, I love that quotation too.

Channeling the character and having it be natural--you're so's the best!

jenny milchman said...

I love your likes :) Those are all wonderful things. I also love when I scare myself writing.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

As you know, this is all new to me. One thing that has surprised me and touched me is going back to re-read a particular scene and finding it makes me cry no matter how many times I re-read it. That blows me away. Totally blows me away. wow.

lil Gluckstern said...

Oh Kaye, I can't wait. With your energy, i bound to like it!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Jenny--When your writing gives you chills, that's good!

Kaye--That's the sign of some powerful writing!

Lil Gluckstern--Me too!