Sumaris_Solitude_CoverThe start of my official fiction writing career began in 2006 when I sold my first short story “Sumari’s Solitude” to Hadley Rille Books for distribution as the lead short story in their Ruins Metropolis anthology. While I have written better-crafted short stories since then, I am still extremely proud of that tale. Here is why: the story was the first short story that I had ever written that dealt with a deeply personal issue of mine.

My story’s main character was the first female high priestess of her temple. Because of her spiritual and political position, she could not marry the man that she loved. The tension of Sumari’s occupation interfering with her love-life was one that I knew quite well. At the time of the story’s actual publication in 2007, my soul mate and I were living over a thousand miles apart. I had moved to a new town with very few friends, was working as the youngest reporter that my news publication had ever hired, and I was stuck in the middle of one the most politically charged offices I had ever encountered. I did not realize it at the time, but I desperately needed to vent my feelings about the whole maddening situation in a way that would not point fingers or fuel any gossip trains. Fiction writing became my solution.

I poured my conflicting feelings of frustration and longing and hope into the character of Sumari. I made her feel like a living, breathing person who shared some of my sorrows. The story’s creation did not change my situation, but it did help me cope with it better.

I wrote and edited the 6000-word short story in less than a month—a great feat for me in those days. The story was then accepted for publication by the first publisher to which I submitted it (Hadley Rille Books). I am now firmly convinced that one of the main reasons “Sumari’s Solitude” was accepted for publication so quickly is because I poured a genuine piece of myself into its creation.

All of this brings me to my writing advice for today: great writing is always deeply personal and passionate. It takes true bravery to write well because such writing requires the writer to share things that he or she deeply cares about with the reader. Such truth can be scary; however, its rewards are incredible.

Some authors have described writing as a form of therapy. I heartily agree with this statement. There are, of course, some published authors who can put together an entertaining story with little depth in either their characters or their story plots. You can still make money with shallow stories, but do you really want to be remembered for a so-so caliber of work? I do not and therefore I try to avoid writing shallow stories as much as possible. To be sure, deep writing is harder because it cuts further past your comfort zone and dips under your personal defenses to spill your greatest hopes and fears out onto the page in stark black and white for all to see. This is unnerving, especially when other people can so easily criticize your efforts. In the end though, I would rather use deep writing to help bring hope and encouragement to other people who have gone through some of the same problems I have endured. If one person finds help through the honesty in my writing, then it is worth a thousand of the harshest critics’ screams.

My passion for my writing drives me through mounds of discouragement. In the end, I am always the biggest fan of my own work just as you should be the biggest fan of your own writing. Your dedication to your writing will make or break it in the minds of others. Making your stories personal will help drive your passion toward them and your passion will help you ensure that your stories are well-written and therefore well-remembered in the mind of your readers. Your writing is your only real way to communicate with and make a good impression with a reader, so be as personable and honest as you can be with them. Those who learn to trust and appreciate your good work will become your most loyal fans and in turn offer you encouragement when you need it the most.

Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

🙂 Alycia

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears with love, fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts on this particular topic and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!