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Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Speak Out!: The Joy of Free-Falling, guest post by Sioux Roslawski

Take a leap and trust the story. That’s a valuable lesson I’ve stumbled upon during my writing bumblings…

Recently I took on two projects that required me to write outside of my box. My sturdy little cardboard box’s contents are boringly predictable: I write memoir pieces, creative non-fiction, menopausal rants—whatever you’d like to call them. Snarky humor? Yes. Fiction? Not in my box. Romance? Definitely not…
Then when a call out for stories about Bigfoot came along, I decided to try. Before I even began, I knew I’d need an unconventional perspective. No “we-saw-Bigfoot-and-it-was-horrifying” kind of story for me. Wondering what Sasquatch feels and what his life must be like got me started. But that’s all I had, a start.
However, as I immersed myself in what I imagined was his routine, as I put myself in this creature’s shoes (or in this case, his hairy feet), the story propelled forward—on its own power. Bigfoot probably lives a solitary life, since if there were tribes of them, there’d now be a reality television show about them. What is it like to live life all by yourself? What sounds does he hear at night, and what things does he see during the day? And what kind of existence is it when you know if people caught sight of you, they would instantly scream and run away?
My wonderings took me to places I hadn’t even initially conceived. The story was born…and now it had legs and was toddling around. With some nudging and encouraging from my writing critique group and me, it matured…
Buoyed by the joy of all the surprises that appear in an evolving story, when a call out for submissions for a “Fifty Shades of Santa” anthology appeared, I jumped at it. They wanted humor. I could do humor. They wanted a holiday story. I could do Christmas. They wanted romance. Well, I thought I could do that…
It turns out I can’t write romance. That story was rejected, but it was such a hoot to write, the joy of writing it took the sting out of the “no.” I wrote from the perspective of a woman having an affair with Santa. Spinning that yarn took me to all sorts of unexpected places. What does Santa wear during the off-season? How would Mrs. Claus react if someone tried to take her man away from her? And who really wears the pants in that family?
It’s not okay to leap into a family-sized bag of cookies and trust you’ll gain some self-control somewhere in the middle. It’s not advisable to leap into a pair of zebra-striped stretch pants just because some pencil-of-a-model wore them, thinking it’ll be a good look for you. However, it is wise to step off your normal writing path and try a new trail. And even if there aren’t any signs pointing to the final destination, the trip might prove enlightening.

Write it. Write the beginning, and the rest will come…

Sioux Roslawski is a third grade teacher and a freelance writer in St. Louis. In her spare time she blogs, rescues Golden Retrievers and dreams of someday retiring to southern France.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


  1. This post is such a great reminder to think - and write! - outside the box. You never know what you'll discover. (Hey, maybe zebra striped stretch pants will actually look good on me. Okay, no, that's turning the box inside out...) :)

  2. Anonymous4:50 AM

    I love this post. I don't like the thought of being stuck in one genre, so I have gone in different directions with my writing before, sometimes with complete failure. Other times, I liked the result (even if it doesn't win). But with each story I write, each time I push myself a little, I learn a lot about where I can possibly go.

  3. Just what I needed! This is an encouraging word!

  4. What a hoot! I have to read that anthology. It reminds me of the Daniel Clowes comic, "Sensual Santa."

    Thanks for the great story and the reminder to stretch our writing muscles. :)

  5. It's good try try different kinds of writing to see what really suits you best. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. You crack me up--and I know how creative you are, even if you don't write a lot of fiction. :) I think I'd like to read the affair with Santa story--sounds great! :)

    I am working on a middle-grade novel mystery series this November and just yesterday all of my little children characters took over and did unexpected things. Love it when that happens! :)

    Sometimes getting started is all you needed--I completely agree!

  7. Duly noted. Perhaps I should take the road less traveled by. That could make all the difference.

    I am reluctant to leave my current route. I can navigate it without even thinking, and arrive at my destination with no recollection of how I got there.

  8. Madeline--Than you're a bigger woman than I am--or more likely, a SMALLER woman than I am. Thanks for the comment.

    Julie--Thanks. You are completely right. Pushing ourselves is crucial.

    Patricia--I'm glad I could help a little. As writers, we need all the encouragement we can get.

    Angela--I will have to check out "Sensual Santa." THAT sounds like a hoot.

    MP--Thank you for stopping by and listening to my ramblings. You're right. Finding what suits us is crucial.

    Margo--I am seeing that more and more as the hellishness that is NaNo continues. Writing fiction ain't for cowards, that's for sure.

    Val--You write such wonderful memoir, and some of it is twisted enough, it could pass for fiction.

    What would it take to shove you off your road and onto a different path? People with size 11 feet want to know...

  9. Madeline--Oops. I meant, "THEN you're better than I am," not "Than..." Sorry about the typo.

  10. Awesome post, Sioux. And I SO want to read about that naughty Santa because I DO write romance! :)

  11. I wrote a really long comment here a day or two ago and it showed up right away after I did the verification code. Then when I looked's gone! Oh well, there's no way I can repeat all that I said....but it was really good....and funny! :)

  12. Lisa--I tried, but sadly, cannot.

    Becky--Thanks. Isn't that a pain when blogger acts up?

  13. Yeah, it is! Thanks, Sioux.

  14. Sioux, I loved this post. We do need to step out of our box and give things a try as you'll never know... or you will know (in some cases).

  15. Hi Sioux,
    This post is so YOU! I love your advice. How can I know if I can do something if I don't try?
    Write on, Sioux!

  16. What wonderful advice! I would be inspired even if I hadn't read some of your profoundly funny and profoundly thoughtful work....


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