Day 41 of 84 Days of 84 Ribbons: Q&A
During book events people often ask questions. Here are a few of the more common questions and my answers.
When did you start writing?
I started writing poetry when I was a child. I also made my own cards and wrote short stories. As a teacher I wrote plays and song lyrics but my interest in writing didn’t happen until I retired and had time to write at length. My first project was taking the training ideas Linda Belz and I developed for our classroom parents and turning them into my first book, Educating America: 101 Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms.
Was it difficult to shift from non-fiction to fiction?
Shifting was no problem. Both require looking for the best words to express your ideas. Non-fiction demands a certain chronology and that I sequenced the information in a usable format. Fiction also demands order or else a story and the characters won’t grow and develop. They are alike yet different.
Where did the idea for 84 Ribbons come from?
I needed a story idea before I could take my first writing classes. Marta’s story popped into my brain complete with a title and a story arc. Of course I had no idea of all the obstacles I needed to give her to keep things interesting, but they came as I wrote. Thank heavens for critique groups and writing friends. They helped me brainstorm many of my scenes.
Why did you select the late 1950s as your setting?
I followed the notion to write what you know. I danced for over seventeen years so I knew about dancing. I grew up in Bremerton so I knew the temperament of the city. Then I made Marta older than myself so I’d have a bit of perspective. I did research to re-remember what life was like in the late 50s. It’s amazing how much I forgot over the decades!
How long did it take to write 84Ribbons?
If you count years, it was way too long. If you count dedicated time to writing it sounds better. I began my story twelve years ago, but I set it aside while I pursued other interests. I knew I’d return to it one day. When I did return to the story in earnest, I spent a good two years rewriting (as a newbie, I started in the wrong place and threw out 100 pages!) and then editing. I learn a lot and hopefully books two and three will need less rewriting.
Send me your questions about writing, Marta, or the other characters in the ballet series and I’ll do my best to answer you in a future blog.