Mystery Mondays: Tracy L. Ward on Dreamers, Wishers and Do-ers

Today on Mystery Mondays, we welcome Tracy L. Ward, author of PRAYERS FOR THE DYING. Both Tracy and I graduate from the Humber School for Writers, so I thought they deserved a little shout out.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel, this is the post for you!

Dreamers, Wishers and Do-ers by Tracy Ward.

There are a lot of great writers out there, and I mean A LOT.

I’m not talking about the Dan Browns or Diana Gabaldons of the world. Everyone knows them. Readers everywhere buy their books and praise their abilities. There’s no question that these A-list authors have made their mark on the book industry. I’m also not talking about the mid-list authors either. The lesser known, but still lovingly followed, authors who never seem to disappoint as they produce fabulous books of note and stellar characters we readers want to hear from again and again.

Today I want to talk about the writers who have never been published. The ones who have never gotten passed the first few chapters. The writers who have never progressed passed the idea stage. The dreamers. The wishers. The would-be authors.

As an established writer I meet people all the time who tell me they have always dreamed of being an author. They tell me it’s been a dream of theirs since they were a child. They’ve had an idea in their head for years but have struggled to get it out onto paper.

Recently, I’ve been helping my thirteen-year-old son, who struggles with writing as well. He’s an avid reader and is a pretty good speller, but his sentences, his stories, his descriptive writing are all below his grade level. I’ve noticed how he clams up when we sit down to do his school work. Suddenly, with a notebook in front of him, his normally chatty self has run out of words. I think I’ve narrowed down the culprit.

Fear.

Like the would-be authors, my son is afraid of making a mistake. He’s afraid of looking foolish (perhaps more so because he knows what his mother does for a living). When it comes down to it, it’s not that he’s run out of words or that he doesn’t know what to say. It’s that nagging fear that tells him whatever he gets down on the piece of paper will not be good enough or that it will be wrong somehow. He’s doomed before he starts, so why bother?

Here’s why…A first draft is just that; a draft. Nothing you write is written in stone. Get used to that doubt. Say hello. Invite it for tea. Snuggle up to it on cold winter nights. It’s not going anywhere, so you might as well be friends.

Getting through a first draft is UG-LY. It’s like taking a look at a 2000 piece puzzle for the very first time. What the heck did we get ourselves into? Knowing this from the get-go, I force myself to write every day, 500 words minimum, until that puppy is D-O-N-E. I push myself forward even when that nagging doubt chips away at every word. By the time I get to the last paragraph my first draft resembles my weather-worn “Blankie” from my younger years. It’s misshapen and colourless with holes so big you can drive a Mack truck through them. It’s hideous.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Scroll back up to the top and start reading from the very beginning. Fix those sentence fragments. Erase superfluous characters. Give that antagonist a little more depth. Add a scene, delete a scene. Do whatever it is your book is telling you to do. None of this can happen without that first draft tough and that’s the truth. It’s an evolutionary process and it’s much easier once that first draft is done. That first draft is like the frame work of a house. It sort of resembles a home and there’s still quite a bit more to do, but at least now you know what the main structure looks like and you can better see what needs your attention.

So if you are a would-be author who’s dreaming of finally getting that idea out, my advice is stop. Don’t dream. Don’t doubt. Just do.

PRAYERS FOR THE DYING:

Small Prayers CoverDr. Peter Ainsley knew it was only a matter of time before London claims another murder victim, but this time the body is discovered tied to a lamppost four doors down from the house Ainsley shares with his sister and their bedridden father. The day the body is discovered, a maid of their house and Ainsley’s lover, Julia Kemp, fails to return home from errands in the city.

Convinced the body found in Belgravia and Julia’s disappearance are related, Ainsley follows leads that point him to an infamous bookman, Thaddeus Calvin, known as much for manipulating boxing outcomes as he is for his violent temper. Fiercely protected by the neighbourhood he extorts, Thaddeus is like a ghost, so deeply feared even Scotland Yard is unable to charge him for his crimes.

When another young woman’s body, a housemaid like Julia, is discovered floating in the river Ainsley hastens his desperate search to discover Julia’s whereabouts before she too becomes just another murder victim found in the Thames.

WHO IS Tracy L. Ward?

Author HeadshotA former journalist and graduate from Humber College’s School for Writers, Tracy L. Ward has been hard at work developing her favourite protagonist, Peter Ainsley, and chronicling his adventures as a morgue surgeon in Victorian England. She is currently working on the sixth book in the Marshall House Mystery series set for release in 2017. To find out more about Tracy’s books follow her on www.facebook.com/TracyWard.Author or visit her website at www.gothicmysterywriter.blogspot.com

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Mystery Mondays: Tracy L. Ward on Dreamers, Wishers and Do-ers

  1. Excellent reminder that the first draft is just that, and that Fear is our enemy. Great to hear from another Humber graduate. [I went to Humber in Toronto to study journalism back in the early 70s.]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Roland, thanks for stopping by. The school for Writers was awesome. I had Joan Barfoot as my mentor and met my first agent through them. I love the last sentence of this blog. Just Do.

      Like

    2. Absolutely, Roland. That first draft is key. I studied Journalism as well at Conestoga (Kitchener) before starting the writing program at Humber. What a changing industry Journalism is!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great points made here Tracy. It’s true, when the writing gets tough and the words don’t want to come, I find myself doing anything but … organizing my paperclips by colour is a favorite (yes, I have the plastic-coated coloured ones; what writer would buy the metal ones?)…perseverance, that’s the magic bullet if you want to turn the dream into a reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Paperclips! Yes! And all other manner of distraction. Daily words counts work for me. I have no stipulation that they must be good words, just words, and I try not to hate myself if I have to rip them all out the next day.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a nervous wreck whenever I send my work to my editor or beta readers for the first time. I originally thought the process would become easier and that eventually I would mellow out about the whole thing. Nope. It’s not any easier than the first time around. It’s a good thing, I think. I’m always trying to improve my books and offerings to my readers. Thanks for commenting, Darlene!

      Liked by 1 person

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