We’re ten days into the New Year. As most of us do, I look back to see what I accomplished in 2023 and was surprised that I haven’t really written much since July of 2022. And what I have written sounds a little too pensive. Or maybe just downright dull.
I’ve done a lot of rewriting/revising and finally got my manuscript pleasing enough for my agent to shop it around. I think it’s much better with her input, but I’m not sure. Someone smarter than me will have to tell me that. There are so many versions of it floating around in my head.
I think the best thing I’ve written in the past year plus, is my mother’s obituary. And that kind of finished me off. I didn’t feel like writing, much less blogging, after that. Writing her obit was easier than I expected because I knew about her life. I would have been in trouble if I’d had to write my dad’s. He didn’t share much. And if someone doesn’t talk to me, I don’t ask them many questions. I always felt like his secrets were his. I regret that now. So many things about him I wish I knew.
I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts during the past year. There are some good ones out there that I hope to share with you at some point. I’ve taken a few courses and watched webinars. I’ve read. Overall, I’ve enjoyed the past year but it’s a year out of my life that I didn’t accomplish much.
I’ve always enjoyed reading obituaries. Those of you who know me, know that I’m a sentimental packrat. I save all sorts of things—including interesting obits I’ve come across in newspapers.
Obits can be wonderful character sketches. I especially like it when they have pictures of the deceased as a young person and then a pic of them aged. That doesn’t happen often because it’s so expensive to get an obit in the paper anymore. That’s dreadful! Everyone deserves their moment in the news. I think obits should be free.
But seriously, obits can help you round out your characters, or perhaps even generate an idea for a story. You might even grow to love and admire people more than you do when you read about the lives of strangers. We’re all so unique in our own way. We all have our struggles.
There’s an interesting site of free online obituaries called Beyond the Dash if you care to read a few … though most of them are famous people. Better to study obits of real people. But this site also has instruction on how to write obits.
Practice writing your own obituary. Or the obits of your characters. Believe me, it’s a good exercise for you. Plus, somewhere down the line knowing how will come in handy. Don’t forget the 5-Ws that we learned in school (depending on your age, I guess). Who, What, When, Where, Why and sometimes How.
Until next week …