Friday, August 5, 2016

Write Your Passion

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

I have this lovely friend who is an aspiring author. She's a fantastic writer--hungry to learn, voracious for feedback--and when she asked me to read her manuscript a few years back, I jumped on it. 

The manuscript didn't disappoint--interesting characters, twisty journey, fantastic fight scenes--but I will admit to being surprised by its content. I'd only ever met my friend through social media and her every post revolved around storm chasing, a topic she was clearly passionate about.

Regardless of what she'd told me--and I'm certain she'd given me a summary before I agreed to read--in the back of my mind somewhere, I'd assumed her novel would be a YA version of Twister. But she'd gone a different route altogether. She'd written a YA fantasy. A very good fantasy and something she'd clearly put enormous effort into.

The surprise wasn't a bad one--not at all--but to this day, I'd love to see her write some sort of epic YA tale following storm chasers trekking through tornado alley. I think she could capture it vividly, with a spark only she could bring to the tale.

Because she is passionate about storm chasing. She reads about it. She follows those who work in this very specialized field. She craves storm season and misses it desperately when the months dawdle. I know these things because her online persona splashes it brightly about. Not because she's selling anything, but because she genuinely loves this topic.

Your passions outside the writing life make for excellent story fodder. I think we can all agree on that. So, I have to ask, what is it you love to do? 

Me, I have a minor obsession with football. Clearly, I don't play. But it's a topic I can't get enough of. I'm one of those voracious sports readers who gets irritated when the columnists and reporters run out of content. How dare they?! I go through fit-inducing withdrawals during the off-season and I'm always looking for a good biography or documentary to get lost in.

The likelihood of me getting bored by doing good, solid research on anything football related is nil. And since I've already done loads of "research," I'll have a head start whenever I decide to give this topic a go.

Now. Truth?

It's terrifying. Football has always been an escape for me, so the idea that I should turn my obsession into work is daunting, as evidenced by the fact that I have yet to write a football-related anything. And while I'm convinced there's merit to the paranoia, I can't help feeling like the novel already exists somewhere inside my chest and that if I'd just push through the fear, there's a stock of ready-made content stored away in my cells. I know this stuff. I bleed it. 

If only I were brave enough to write it.

As I continue to think on this topic, I'm reminded that in the past, with my published works, I have relied on my passions to inform me. I adore theatre and the Bible. I'm obsessed with classical literature and nurse a wild nostalgia for the Northwest. These topics have all informed my writing and have colored certain scenes more brightly than others because of my heartfelt interest in these areas. The writing was easier because it included material I knew inside and out--not because I'd set out on a research expedition, but because I'd simply lived my life and indulged my interests along the way.

So, tell me: 

Do you write about things you're passionate about? Would you consider doing so? Why or not?

14 comments:

  1. I'm personally very interested in two things--souls and psychopaths. Perhaps quite different subjects, but my WIP revolves around this concepts. I think it really helps to write about something you are passionate about, because it makes you WANT to write, rather than it being work or a project that needs to be finished. This is a very thought provoking post though...

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    1. I absolutely agree! And what cool (terrifyingly so!) passions! Happy writing, friend.

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  2. I always write fantasy into whatever I write. Not always in concept, but always in voice. I've thought up different projects, and I rather like to read/watch mystery/detective shows, but I could never write anything without a fantasy voice even if I switched genres. Not that I haven't tried, but it doesn't work. Fantasy is my favorite genre anyway, so it's not a big deal. I'm happy, my WIP is happy.

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    1. I am obsessed with detective stories right now. It's my new favorite genre. Have you read the Bekka Cooper stuff by Tamora Pierce? They're fantasy detective stories and the author is FABULOUS.

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  3. My biggest passion is reading, and I've always wanted to write a POV that constantly makes references to literature. The problem? Everyone's read different books (and I read a lot of obscure novels), so most readers won't get all (or even most) of the references. I suppose I could always go the Mr. Lemoncello's Library route, but I would love to write a contemporary fantasy story that just so happens to be told from the POV of a literature nerd.

    I'm currently loving my WIP (which is different from the work I described above), so it's not that big of an issue. But I usually try to weave a love of reading into a least one of my characters.

    Thanks for the interesting post!

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    1. It's pretty hard to resist putting obscure references or private jokes in writing. I personally channel all that kind of stuff into my English papers (more amusing for my friends than my teachers).

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    2. I LOVE mr lemoncello's library

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    3. It's not necessary to weave all your other interests into every WIP, so no stressin okay? But I wonder if what would happen if you let your brain wander a bit down the halls of your literature loves? I wonder about the kind of stories you'd land on. No pressure at all. Write what you want to write. This is just a bit of encouragement. Lean on it if you're ever stuck or looking for a new project.

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  4. I love history--especially Greek and Roman history. It's gotten to the point where I have difficulty writing about anything else. :P I've got a modern-day murder mystery on the backburners, but without my friends and Romans, it's pretty difficult to get off the ground.

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    1. Oh my goodness! Have you read Sabaa Tahir's AN EMBER IN THE ASHES? She's a fabulous example of weaving Roman(ish) history into a novel. Plus, it was my absolute favorite read last year. READ IT! Be inspired.

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    2. I need to read this! I'm half Greek and LOVE the history of that area of the world, plus as a Christian it could be a great christfic setting... hm!

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  5. I've actually not written much about the things I'm passionate about, but just this year, I've started to do it more. I'm crazy about theatre and travel and justice and eating good food with people I care about. I think it's a little scary because I have to open up about things that are closest to me sometimes, but I think it makes some of my best writing. Fabulous post!

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    1. It's absolutely scary and most people won't understand just how terrifying it is to dig that deep and write about your soul. But you're brave. You CREATE WORLDS! You can do this.

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  6. What a great post, Shannon :) I definitely struggle with this. I am passionate about politics, yet let me tell ya, writing YA with politics is no small feat. Fantasy is still my first love, so I'm trying to incorporate politics into that world, but I would love to write a nonfiction book with a political topic :)

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