Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Post: Every Writer Has a Bit of Harry Inside ‘Em

Today I am thrilled to welcome Melinda Collins to the blog.  Melinda is a writer and music lover who also happens to live in my home state!  (Though we haven't met...yet!)  Although she just started blogging and Tweeting a few months ago, she's already made a huge impact.  She shares her love of music and writing on her blog Muse, Rant, Rave, but one of her posts I love the most is her weekly Friday Favs where she sums up all the great articles and entertainment from the last week.  She also sponsored the recent Week of the Writer with a whole week of posts crammed full of writerly goodliness.  And her Tweet feed is is always a source of good links and interesting news.

Did you know I wrote my first novel with a writing partner, passing the book back and forth by e-mail?  Well, so did Melinda.  She and a friend in high school completed three (count them, 3!) books by passing back and forth between classes...when they should have been studying!  But truly, we all know writing is more important.

So, please welcome Melinda as she shares with us what we all have in common with each other and with Harry Potter:

Every Writer Has a Bit of Harry Inside ‘Em

Believe it or not, writers have a lot in common with young mister Potter than we may not want to admit sometimes.

Now, while I could probably wear out my welcome here on Harry Potter for Writers by listing upwards of fifty of those similarities, I’m just going to stick to the more important ones….for now. J

1.      We’re all a little lost until we figure out where we belong. Do you remember feeling like you didn’t quite fit in when you were younger? I do! I felt like a total nerd as I walked around with a Muse on my shoulder and ten different stories in my head. Though I wished it happened earlier, it wasn’t until adulthood that I figured out where I belonged – and that is in front of the keyboard, staying up until the wee hours of the night, arguing with myself my Muse. Until he started receiving the mysterious letters that Uncle Vernon wouldn’t let him read, Harry knew, on some small level, that he didn’t belong with the Durleys. Granted, he had no clue how important he was to the world of magic, but as I learned more about Harry in those first few chapters, I could instantly tell he felt just like me – a nerd that hadn’t found their niche yet. As artists, until we find an outlet for our creativity, we’re lost. As writers, until our characters – or Muse – find us, and we come to fully understand our creative potential, we’re getting pushed about by Dudley and sleeping in the cupboard under the stairs. 

2.      We wave a wand to produce magic. What? You don’t have one? I do. *ahem* While I would like to believe that my pen – or keyboard – is a magic wand, it’s just never going to happen. But, wait! Technically, these items are a wand for writers. The magic that happens while we’re writing a story is being produced by a wave of our ‘wands’. They may not be able to make a feather float in thin air, or rid ourselves of annoying distractions, but magical words appear on the page and have the power to enchant our readers from beginning to end. 

3.      We each have a circle of friends that have our back. Yes, Harry had quite a lot of friends. Even though he wasn’t very close with all of them, they were his friends regardless. They were even willing to stand by him and face the darkness they knew would be coming. As writers, the friends who have our backs no matter what are our fellow writers. Be it those you meet online through Twitter or blogging, or those you meet in critique groups, those writers know and understand what you’re going through better than anyone else. And when it’s time to face the demon, they’ll have your back and encourage you through every revision, every re-write, and every rejection. And, just like Harry, we have that smaller, more close-knit group of a select few – Hermoine and Ron, anyone? – that we share everything with. These special people are our spouses, best friends, siblings, or – dare I say it? – our pets. They are the ones who know our deepest darkest secrets and fears, and they are the ones who encourage us, more than anyone else, to keep moving no matter what.

4.      We look to our ‘Professors’ to show us how our spells can be improved. Right now, I’m taking a four-week workshop on Savvy Authors titled ‘Advanced Dialogue’. Similar to the boy who lived, we all crave to learn more about the craft we’ve come to know and love. At the moment, my Dumbledore is Donald Maass, and my Snape is a certain workshop teacher that is seriously kicking my butt while teaching me how to become a better writer. Everyone has one, just like Harry. Who is your Dumbledore and Snape? 

5.       We each have a piece of the Dark Lord within us. C’mon, admit it. Your inner critic is just as bad, if not worse, than Voldemorte. And guess what? That Dark Lord lives within you. He sits on the opposite side of the fence from your Muse. He taunts your Muse as you write, reminding it that only one of them can live forever inside your brain. When you meet him face to face, sometimes you’ll run in terror, and sometimes you’ll walk away triumphant. But, unlike Harry, we never ultimately kill our Dark Lord. He still lurks in the shadows and only comes out when he finds us second-guessing the grand idea we just developed into an outline, or doubting the scene we just spent two hours pounding out. Only with the most awesome back-up that money can’t buy (aka: CP’s, editors, etc.), can we truly defeat our Voldemort once and for all.

So, please tell me: What do you have in common with the boy who lived? Or am I the only one letting their geek flag fly today? J

Susan here: I LOVE the idea of my keyboard as a magic wand! That just makes me feel all magical inside! And it's so true. What else do we do as writers but conjure bustling worlds, intriguing characters, and exciting plots out of the thin air of our imaginations?  And though I hate to think I have a bit of Voldy inside me, I guess he's left his mark, because doubts, worries, and second guesses sure do haunt all writers.

Thank you so much, Melinda, for this fabulous insight!  And everyone -- be sure to check out Melinda's blog and Twitter and share your thoughts below!

Bio:  Melinda S. Collins is an admin assistant by day, and an avid reader and aspiring author by night. Anything and everything Paranormal, Fantasy, and musical interests inspires her.