Featured Writer on Wellness: Gwenyth Snow

Filed in Book Writing Inspiration by on July 10, 2019 0 Comments • views: 268

My motivation for writing wasn’t because I dreamed of being a bestselling author, but rather because of my son, David, born with a severe form of cerebral palsy.

Although he lived a full and happy life, in spite of his health problems, David became irreversibly ill just short of his twentieth birthday.

At that time, we were confined to the hospital, enduring a plethora of tests and procedures, trying to buy him as much time as possible. In an attempt to make our last few months more tolerable, I wrote stories that featured him as the main character.

Could Situations from Our Lives Make Up a Novel?

I took situations from our lives, bumping up the silly factor to make them more enjoyable and amusing, and they were a success!

It kept me occupied and David amused. Sometime after he passed away, I reviewed the stories and thought I might make them into something more widely readable.

With no idea how to write a novel, I started where most of us do when looking for help: I asked a friend.

I Needed Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Write Fiction

I’m not someone who can sit down already knowing what I want to say any more than I can get into my car and drive to an unknown destination. I must know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there.

My first obstacle was the definition of fiction and its elements. My friend came to the rescue, giving me the name of an author who, with step-by-step instructions, explained the fundamental rules and principles of how to write a fictional novel.

This was what I needed, and it allowed me to determine the point of view I wished to focus on, how to develop my characters as well as the structure for my plot.

One of Gwen’s favorite pictures of her son, David. He inspired her first novel.

We All Have Our Excuses for Avoiding Writing

Since I already had several stories, I knew where I would place them in my outline and adjusted them to fit as a whole rather than as one part of a series. Once the structure was established, the next hurdle was writing the first draft.

Sticking with it at the beginning can be difficult, and finding excuses to avoid it remain plentiful. I found the best strategy for making myself accountable was calling on the help of another friend.

We’re all familiar with excuses to avoid things: the invention of emergency housework, being exceedingly overtired or starving for something available only at a fast-food restaurant miles away.

I battled these temptations by asking my friend to help me set up a schedule that accommodated both of us. I could then pass on to her a few pages or chapters at a time, and she returned them within a set number of days.

She was not expected to edit or critique the text, but simply read it and comment on whether it made sense and held her attention. I believe that avoiding criticism or offering suggestions kept our friendship intact.

In this way, I could focus on finishing my first draft then rely on a professional editor to do the more challenging task. It wasn’t without its scheduling problems, but it did indeed force me to stay accountable and get it done.

The Conditions Writers Face When Sitting for Long Periods of Time

During the writing process, there were times when ideas flowed, and my determination was high, but physical ailments came into play.

Sitting for long periods causes me lower back and hip pain. I know from my nursing background that prolonged sitting can cause a DVT (deep vein thrombosis)—a blood clot in the leg that can dislodge and travel to the heart or lungs.

Getting up and moving around frequently can lessen the possibility of this happening. I’ve made it a habit to change my position or activity every hour and take a break for several minutes by doing something else, like taking a short walk or doing light housework. When I go back to my writing, I can sit for another hour before taking a break.

Prolonged sitting also can cause tightness in the fascia or the iliotibial (IT) band that runs down the side of the leg, which can become inflamed and painful. This is particularly true for those of us who are a bit older.

Don’t underestimate the power of stretching! A few twists and slow side stretches can help decrease stiffness and discomfort in the legs and lower back. Once the pain is lessened, it’s much easier to concentrate on writing (or anything else), resulting in greater productivity.

The Most Satisfying Time for Me is Playing with Sentence Structure

Creativity has many faces, and how I approach it in my writing depends on what I’m focusing on. With structure and plot developed, the most satisfying time for me is to play with sentence structure.

I know I can spend a ridiculous amount of time crafting one sentence to ensure its tone and execution are what I want in terms of usage and style. I do, however, push myself forward before allowing too much time to escape.

Still, I’ll go back later for another attempt to fix it. Using words as threads to stitch together emotion and a relatable situation is my favorite part of the creative process. Mixing words and passion is like blending color and texture in a painting. It reveals more than only the craft; it also shows the soul of the artist.

Writers Write Because They Feel Something

Throughout my life, I’ve heard people say they could never write because they aren’t accomplished enough. Claims of poor spelling and the complexities of grammar handily eliminate any reason to try.

I don’t believe writers begin to write primarily to wield power over grammar and spelling. They write because they feel something. I’ve had plenty of dark moments that stemmed from sleep deprivation, being a single parent of a severely disabled child, giving up my job, attending university while raising my son, living in poverty, and aiding my aging parents.

My experiences taught me that the only thing I needed to do was put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, looking for positive change.

I’m in no way making light of issues for those who struggle with mental health, but a bit of magic can happen in dark days when only one bright moment shows itself; the burden is greatly lessened in that moment.

The darkest times in my past have built invaluable experiences that have made me more compassionate towards others and quicker to see the lighter side of the worst situations. This is the stuff that inspires writing and makes it uniquely relatable.

It Doesn’t Matter How Long the Writing Takes You

I never worried about how long it might take me to finish my novel. Once the first draft was completed, which took more than a year, I started the rewriting process.

As a schoolteacher, I had more free time during the summer. It took me six additional years to finish my book. That may sound excessive, but the point is, I got it done.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes you; the writing won’t spoil, it won’t cost you more, and its purpose won’t change. It will also offer a huge learning curve that, for me, was paramount in my development as a writer.

The Regular Publishing Route Isn’t a Writer’s Only Option

There are many beautiful moments in writing, such as developing a multifaceted character, or a paragraph that nails what you want to say. Out of hundreds of great moments, one of my favorites was opening the box containing my novel and holding my first book in my hands.

There is nothing quite like it, although publishing through one of the bigger publishing houses can be a challenge.

After four rejection letters, emphasizing I had no other published works to base their decision on, I felt increasingly frustrated and discouraged after all the work I put in. I was grateful to another author who pointed out that the regular publishing route wasn’t my only option.

She suggested I consider self-publishing and gave me the name of a company. She had done both, and each had their positive and negative qualities. No longer is self-publishing seen as a vanity project. It is an additional and viable way to allow great books, too easily overlooked by overwhelmed publishing houses, to reach the marketplace.

It can be costly, but you have a significant amount of input in design as well as the level of publishing rights you hold. The other important thing to know as an author is that you can deduct many of your expenses since you are considered a business. You can certainly go with a traditional publisher for your second book, and if you have had some success with your first, it will help you get noticed.

Advice for a Young Writer: Don’t Let Anything Stop You

More than anything, I again want to stress that if you’re going to write, don’t let anything stop you.

Being an author probably won’t make you wealthy, or put you on a favorite talk show, but the joy of seeing your creation perched on a shelf in a bookstore for others to enjoy is unbeatably satisfying.

Another thrilling moment is running into a friend who has bought your book, and as they pull it from their shopping bag, they excitedly say, “I can’t wait to read it! Can you sign it for me, please?”

* * *

Gwenyth Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She worked as a licensed practical nurse for nearly twenty years before deciding to change her profession. In her late thirties she attended the University of Alberta and achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and an after degree in Education.

During that time, she became enchanted by so many of the books that she read, that she developed an interest in writing. In addition to writing and teaching at an elementary school, she has a passion for film and travel. It’s About Luke! is her first novel.

For more information on Gwen and her work, please see her website, or connect with her on Facebook.

It’s About Luke!: Luke Poole is an ordinary boy struggling between the everyday normal and the fringe world of David, his older, severely disabled brother. They enjoy a close relationship, often giving rise to impulsive deeds that lead to situations with hilarious consequences.

Luke’s relationship with his mother is dominated by his feelings of being undervalued and disrespected as she struggles to maintain her own sanity in the stressful and exhausting demands of daily life. Sudden tragedy leads to Luke’s discovery of who he is and the meaning of family.

Available at Amazon.

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