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“A WRITER HAS THE DUTY TO BE GOOD… ” – MY WRITING PROCESS, BY GASTON D. COX

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    For me reading a writer’s work I sometimes can relate to a character there’s a commonality, but I often find the result wasn’t the same as my own experience. This discovery makes me reassess my decisions and make changes or give me ideas on how to better handle if I’m placed in the same position a second time. Sometimes books choose its readers, and its words are burden with the spirit to uplift or enlighten, maybe educate or merely to trigger memories of forgotten happiness. This is its purpose.

    Buried deep within the story’s core the writer climbs from its depths with all its pieces. The skill set to fasten the pieces creating something magical and worth reading is what distinguishes literary talent. I’ve decided to share excerpts from a storyline I dig up left to grow cobwebs between the pages of my scratch pad. I feel if my story doesn’t enrich the readers, then it’s a DNR, do not resuscitate.  I will discuss a few writing points after.

    “Menopausal hot flashes are like teenage promiscuity barricaded behind a storefront display while the vivacious stand at its window with fingers in ears and poked out tongues.  Carolyne clung to situations that held no contrast to a dying leaf’s trivial. Perhaps it was the urge to fill a noticeable default that left an absence like the decease of a devoted companion. If these were the preludes to caducity, Carolyne would have instead chained the hands of her internal clock and confine it within whatever corner it crept out.

    There were upsides to the condemns of beldame, airy excuses for bouts of unpredictable emotional outbursts became uncensored, sexual harassment at the workplace was overzealously welcomed, and craziness had turned eccentric.  Mood swings rise and set with the sun and being over the hill was an unending insult and took some getting used to. Carolyne in her younger days was a Miss. North Carolina beauty contestant in many of the national pageants. Her long thin legs often compared to an ostrich accentuated the femininities of a pristine gal. She was introduced to Colonel Murry McCormick at an officers’ commencement party. Perhaps it was his dashing military uniform that exudes a valor’s awe or his Fred Astaire moves on the dance floor and boyish charms that swept her off her feet.

    Carolyne married Murry McCormick. They lived in Tar Heel, a small town of military residents not far from Fayetteville. Some things aren’t meant to go together, like fish and cheese, white dresses and red wine, sex at a funeral, marriage and the military.  A military man cannot serve two masters and neither can a woman. Life’s newness quickly turned old for Carolyne. The colonel’s call to duty tested her resilience. When Jasper and Ella came along Carolyne found herself praying to endure the difficulties of a soldier’s wife. It seemed the higher Murry raised in ranks his charms turned nocuous.

    Cantankerousness set in like gangrene, and his children’s shortcomings fueled its symptoms at the center of their lives. Like when Jack Spencer kissed Ella, the MPs, military police came to Spencer’s home ten o’clock at night pulled Jack from the house like a criminal and arrested him for sexual assault.  Or the time Murry hog-tied Winston Blackburne tossed him in the back of a truck dragged him into the house basement just so Jasper can have a rematch to regain his pride after losing a school fight earlier that day. Murry McCormick’s pride himself in three things: The military, tidiness, and intolerance for human frailty.  The McCormick’s children are grown now, Jasper and Ella both university grads, got married and moved on with their lives. Visits on the weekends and holidays with the grandchildren took the feel of prison visitations but chased the monotony in the couple’s life.

    Carolyne kept busy, she managed the family’s superette in Tar Heel and a member of the Silver Shakers, a health and fitness group composed of aged women and retirees. The Silver Shakers met every Saturday at a local spa. Carolyne is a liberal and independent woman. Perhaps a contrast to Murry’s personality that made family discussions sound like quarrels. Her salt and paper hair and sharp facial features recall a 1970s television character Maude.  Murry retired about a year ago and spent most of his time fishing and playing golf. One morning he just didn’t wake up, people said retirement and Murry wasn’t a good fit, it killed him. . . . . . “

    Some parts of the story needed to be developed and were cut short for obvious reasons. Let’s look at the first paragraph.  “While the vivacious stand at its window with fingers in ears and poked out tongues.” I could have written, “While the vivacious stood like spectators at a public hanging, jeering time’s squanderer.”  Can you picture the second statement? Does it help the reader to evoke a film-like image of the character’s experience? A writer’s primary objective is to be luculent. His words like paint must elicit the clearest of images as though a film.  Imagine, televisions, cinemas, video players weren’t invented. The writer must be all these things; the television, cinema, etc. I believe, the first example; “While the vivacious stand at its window with fingers in ears and poked out tongues.” Enables the reader to vividly see the character’s experience.

    Take the second example, “. . . .no contrast to a dying leaf’s trivial.” A dying leaf’s trivial, how often do we take notice of a fallen leaf?  We think nothing of it until its mentioned and draws our attention. But the word “trivial” and “contrast” show a dramatic disparity to stimulate the reader’s thought. Humor, used in the paragraphs that spoke of mood swings, marriage, and the military. A writer has thirty seconds to impress a potential book buyer. The words must dazzle or spark a commonality with the reader. Humor is an attention grabber.  In the last few years, I’ve read sales books. Why? Because certain words trigger thought, stirs a reality in common with readers– the writer can relate. Someone asked me: “Is the characters in my stories experiences in your life?” What makes an actor an actor? His ability to become a character. The depth of an actor is how well he mastered the heart of his role. I believe it’s the same for writers.

    The paragraph that ended with, “Visits on the weekends and holidays with the grandchildren took the feel of prison visitations but chased the monotony in the couple’s life.” Took the feel of Prison visitation describing the children’s relationship with their father. Perhaps very regimented or bureaucratic. Words that stirs a vividness or a reader’s connection diminishes a writer’s mediocrity.  I leave you with the E. B. White’s words, “. . . A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy: true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down.”

    Gaston D. Cox is the author of several books, including ‘Life Cubed’, ‘The Sounds of Silence’, and ‘Cries of Insanity’. His latest book ‘Aurea Mediocritas’, schedule to come out in June by Page Publishing.

COMMENTS

2 Responses to “A writer has the duty to be good… ” – My Writing Process, by Gaston D. Cox

  • Emma wrote on June 10, 2019 at 12:06 // Reply

    We are big fans of Gaston’s writing!

  • Kevin B wrote on June 10, 2019 at 12:06 // Reply

    LOVE Life Cubed, can’t wait to read more of Gaston’s work!

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