Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Blog: A.E. Mableson "What is This Mysterious Process Called Writing?"

In keeping with writing blogs I present my next guest blog in the series. He was a little concerned about guest blogging as he isn't traditionally published...yet. Oh, don't worry. You'll see Mr. Mableson around soon. Until then, I've attached his website at the end of his post so you can read some of his short stories. Make sure you take a second to pop over and read a couple.

Without further adieu, A.E. Mableson...

What is this mysterious process called writing?

The question was prompted by a colleague who, upon reading one of my short stories, glanced up and asked, “How do you do it?”

My face, usually blank, must have been blanker.

With a flourish, she indicated the paper in her hand. “This writing? How do you do it? I couldn’t do it. How do you come up with a story like this?”

My answer was a shrug and a stammer. “I don’t know,” I said, “I just write. The stories come.”

This incident happened several months ago and I have yet to come up with a good answer to her question.

In the wee hours of the morning when the sun and the moon are still eyeing each other across opposite horizons the question still flits across my mind. How do we do it? How do we writers take pieces of this mosaic of words that we call a language and assemble them into a story?

I have done many different things in my life and building a story is like none of these things. I have built a house. With a house, you start with a plan. Using the plan, you assemble the lumber, plywood, doors, windows, pipes, wiring and shingles into this cohesive thing we call a house.

A story is different, though. I have no plan. I start with an idea, usually only a title or even a beginning sentence. My first novel, The Magic Pipe, had its infancy in smoke curling about my face as I enjoyed a cigar.

From this idea, the story flows. I tack words together into sentences, solder sentences together to form paragraphs, splice paragraphs into scenes and glue the scenes together to form chapters. A story emerges from this mass of thought and words. If a carpenter tried to build a house like this, he might end up with a boat or an airplane.

I am still at a loss. How does this process work? How do we writers do it?

As writers I am sure we all ponder this question. Are the stories just floating around in the air about us and our minds just latch onto them pull them in and we write them down?

Maybe the stories are just lurking within us, waiting for us to sit down and release them from their captivity in our brains.

In my case, stories have always surrounded me. My father and grandfather were inveterate storytellers. Family stories, passed from generation to generation, caressed my ears from infancy to adulthood. We lived on a farm near a small town. This town should have been too small for a library, but it had one. My mother took me to this library when I was small and soon tales like The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham captivated me. Later on the librarian guided me to the stories of Tom Swift, Jr. The Bobsey Twins and the Poppy Ott stories.

As I grew, so did my taste in fiction. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury, James Michener, J. R. R. Tolkien and more all line my bookshelves.

All writers, if they want to succeed, are readers. We read voraciously. Is this the source of our stories?

Do these stories that we read just float around inside our minds, forming and reforming themselves, until they finally spew out of our fingers in a new form? Could they be the fusion of our life experiences and our reading, the result of which surge out into the stories we write?

As I ponder the question I realize that it doesn’t really matter. What matters are the stories that we write. They are kind of like the flowers that grow in my garden. I don’t care how the plant took the sunlight from the sky, carbon dioxide from the air, nutrients in the soil and water from the rain which falls and use them to produce the flower. I just enjoy its color and fragrance.

Upon reflection, I guess I don’t care how or where the stories come from. I just enjoy writing them and I hope that people enjoy reading them.

You can read short stories by A.E. Mableson here.
Thank you to Mr. Mableson for joining me on my blog. You're absolutely brilliant!