Small thoughts

Er is weer een nieuwe top-auteur op komst! Ontmoet Allie Larkin: schrijfster van Blijf! – een lief, grappig, romantisch en ontroerend (oftewel: geweldig!) verhaal over liefde, vriendschap en verlies… en hondentrouw! Chicklit.nl nodigde Allie uit op visite en ze liet deze column achter....

I’m often asked what inspired me to write Stay, and the answer is simple and complicated at the same time. Van, the main character in Stay, is what inspired me to write, and to keep writing. There wasn’t one “aha” moment that set Stay into motion. It was an evolution, and it taught me so much about writing, and how to take on large projects in general. It’s all about the tiny steps. A book gets written one word (one page, one chapter, one tiny moment of inspiration) at a time. I’ve realized that I can’t sit down to write a book – it’s too overwhelming to even think about – but I can try to create characters and tell a story, and if I keep trying, eventually, it will become a book.
Stay started as a writing exercise in a college creative writing course. We were given a piece of paper with two columns of words and asked to pick a word from each column, make a sentence from them, start with the sentence, and write for five minutes. What I wrote was a heavy-handed, overly dramatic scene about a shell-shocked man being dumped by his fiancé. It was one of the worst things I’d ever written.
Later when we were tasked with revising one of our writing exercises three times, changing something major like tense or setting or point of view, I chose that exercise, because it gave me the most room for improvement.
In the third revision, I switched the point of view of the fiancé and that’s when Van appeared. She was smart and bold. She wore her emotions so close to the surface, and even through her bravado and humor, her hurt came through. I felt like she almost wrote herself, and it was exciting to see what would happen next as I kept writing. For my final class project, I wrote a short story about Van meeting her best friend, Janie, for coffee. She’d just broken up with her fiancé, and in the course of the story, Van confesses to herself that she’s constantly picking the wrong men, because the right one – Janie’s husband, Peter – is already taken. I sent the story out to a very prestigious (and out of my league at the time) literary magazine. It was rejected, but someone had taken the time to write a note on the rejection letter saying that the story was great, but the dialogue still needed work, and that I should keep writing.
I graduated from school and moved on to a full-time job that left me with little time for writing. About a year after graduation, I was asked to join a writing group. I hadn’t been writing, so I didn’t have any work to bring with me. I went back to my story about Van and Janie meeting for coffee. I thought all I needed to do was fix the dialogue and send it out again. Something wasn’t working, everyone in my writing group agreed, but none of us could quite pinpoint what was wrong.
I believe that if I’m stuck or something isn’t working in a story, it’s because I don’t know my characters well enough. So when I’m at a loss for how to fix something, I write other scenes – stories about my characters that aren’t intended for the final work. So when I didn’t know how to fix the short story about Van and Janie, I decided to write about Janie’s wedding. If Van was secretly in love with Janie’s husband, I realized that Janie and Peter’s wedding would have been an awful experience for Van. So I wrote that scene, with the intention of getting to know Van better. As soon as I started writing the wedding scene, I realized that’s where my story needed to start.
In the same college creative writing class where Stay started, we read an essay about writing that included a quote by E. L. Doctrow. When asked about his writing process, he said, “it’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Over the past few years, I’ve to apply that to my writing, and to all the large tasks in my life. Instead of worrying about every single step in an entire process, I make sure I have a vague idea of the end result, and then just commit to taking the next step over and over again, giving myself permission to plod and plot and delight in the little discoveries along the way.

Allie Larkin

Blijf!

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    Savannah heeft een gebroken hart. De man waar ze gek op is gaat trouwen met haar beste vriendin. In een dronken bui koopt ze via internet een schattig hondje. Maar in plaats van een pluizige puppy krijgt Savannah een enorme onhandige joekel van een beest. Joe rent als een razende door het huis, kwijlt alles onder en reageert alleen op Slowaakse politiecommando’s. Savannah is ten einde raad en zoekt een dierenarts. Met zijn sexy lach en zijn blonde kuif zorgt hij voor nog véél meer complicaties.

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