Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers

MY BLOG POSTS COMMENT ON SOME ASPECT OF WRITING & READING.

The Ripening
The Ripening:
A Canadian Girl Grows Up

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self. Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare! "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Curva Peligrosa
Curva Peligrosa

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

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FLING!
Fling!

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

"Fling! is both hilarious and touching. Every page is a surprise, and the characters! I especially loved Bubbles, one of the most endearing mothers in recent fiction. A scintillating read."

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Freefall
Freefall :
A Divine Comedy

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
All This
All This

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Indicative of the title, the poems in All This range from the conventional lyric/narrative that captures an intense moment of emotion, an epiphany glimpsed briefly out of the corner of the eye, to the more experimental. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
No More Kings
No More Kings

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

Each finely crafted poem in this powerful collection comes alive on the page while she traces the days’ journeys with a painter’s eye, a musician’s ear, and the deft pen of a poet.

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
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How are fiction writers and magicians similar?

Fiction writers have been called many things, but magician seems the best description. They dip into the black hat of their imagination and produce an endless variety of characters, situations, images, genres, events, and styles. The effect on readers is nothing less than magical, the reader also becoming a conjurer, assisting in making visible what wasn’t there before.

Writers and magicians depend on their skillful fingers for their art. Sleight of hand has considerable value in a writer’s bag of tricks—the ability to juggle numerous characters, settings, scenes, and themes simultaneously, rivaling the most accomplished conjurer. But the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief is necessary for the writer’s art to be fully realized.

            Yet trusting in these magician’s skills also requires that the writer suspend her disbelief, and that isn’t easy. Each time I start a new story, a new chapter, a new novel, I must trust that the seeds of words take root in the soil of the page and continue to grow, watered and fertilized whenever I open my computer and put fingers to keyboard. I must trust each work I create will grow within my imagination as I write, that I’ll read and experience things that will feed the book, just as a child grows in the womb. Slowly. Stage by stage. If I can trust this, I will have the confidence to proceed.

So much of writing fiction is searching for the right tone, the correct voice. I probe the prose I’ve written over and over to try and find what the passage needs, what’s hidden between syllables, under words. It’s an ongoing search for the story, for the meaning, letting the imagination lead. Something clicks within me, as with an emotionally accurate dream interpretation. I can sense when I’ve hit the vein, when the path becomes clearer. It must be similar for a musician who can hear when a pitch is off. There’s a physical reaction when something doesn’t sound right. So, I constantly reread what I’ve already written until the material shifts and something new comes into view. But the process itself can be agonizing. Each day I must prove to myself again that I can do it—that my imagination will come through.

I fondle, tussle with, twist, and stroke the words, willing them into action. I approach them contritely, humbly, realizing that they have all the power. They are the authority here. A handmaiden doing their will, I’m merely their instrument. The story makes me become more visible as I tease out the strands of plot, image, character. It works on me as much if not more than I work on it.

This is so much like sculpting, reminding me of when I worked on an elephant that emerged from a rock I chiseled for months. I had to concentrate on the stone and nothing else, letting it become my guide, like language. The stone was my language. Writing is like painting, too. First, I sketch in foreground. Then I spend a long time filling in background, working the shadows, a touch of color here, one that will stand out like yellow or red. A deeper tone there so it will recede. Burnt umber or sienna. A moody deep blue. Oh yes and the moods, the way color shapes part of a scene or passage.

This reminds me of Jacob wrestling with the angel. Each time I sit down to work on a novel or story, I feel like Jacob. That’s one reason why it’s harder to write fiction. It takes extra effort, and I resist it more. Writing essays—travel articles, personal narratives, whatever—comes easy. No problem. But the other, the invention, takes much more from me. Each time it requires an heroic effort.

 

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On my blog today, Linda Rosen talks about how women reinvent themselves in her novels despite obstacles thrown their way!

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Do writers write for love or for money?

4 Comments

  1. Poetic and beautiful. I loved reading about fiction and the magic of creating it! Tussle and stroke the words as we do and when the right note is found, the rewards are glorious.

  2. Diane Kopylow

    You nailed it! So well thought out and written!

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