Paying It Forward

Friday, October 14, 2011


*****
I GOT THIS REALLY CRAZY THEORY: We all live multiple lives. 

Every single one of us is totally walking around with multiple personas, which can be drawn out and utilized on a daily basis, put on like a business suit or a T-shirt and weather-worn blue jeans, when the need to face a different set of circumstances arises.  Each of these lives come with a different set of priorities, a different approach to challenges, a different way in which we see the world, and that makes all the difference.

For myself, in seconds I can easily glide from the professional life of a Naval Officer to the familiar, low-stress life of a doting father and faithful husband.  It's as easy as changing my clothes.  This process is one of the ways we learn to cope at an early age, and it's as natural and effortless as breathing.

For most people, their various lives are defined by external influences: jobs, families, friends, dreams.  But for fiction writers, it's not so simple.

In my opinion, a fiction writer's life is defined first and foremost by internal influences: imaginary worlds, compelling main characters, life-altering stories that move the writer to such a degree that he has no choice but to transmogrify the nothingness of an idea into concrete, palpable reality by getting words on the page.  In some sense, the fiction writer lives his own internal struggle, but he also spends hours, days, months--years even!--breathing, raging, crying, triumphing, failing, as he experiences the lives of the characters in his fiction.

If you're like me, it's a strange kind of worry that--more than anything--drives you to write: fear of the life unlived.

As a beginning fiction writer (just getting my feet wet really), the manifestation of that fear takes odd forms for me.  Not having lived the life of an Ishmael or a Robert Jordan or a Nick Carraway, I sometimes sell myself short or feel inadequate.  Sometimes I try to overcompensate and work on five projects at once.  Sometimes I catch myself in meetings (living one of my other lives) troubling over a certain turn of phrase or sticky fictional situation, only to emerge an hour later having forgotten everything I uncovered during those moments.

In short, I'm still finding my way in this fiction writer's life, but there's one thing I've learned: we can't make it on our own.  That's why signing up for this Pay It Forward Blogfest was a no brainer.  Picking three blogs to represent the legions of folks who've been a significant part of my writer's journey was a big challenge, however.  So many people have lent their support, while they've asked for very little in return.  Such generosity of spirit really is quite humbling.

But if it had to be three, then these are them--and I hope you hop right on over and pay them a visit.  In no particular order:
  • Liza @ Middle Passages: Liza was one of the first writers and fellow bloggers who gave me a leg up.  She reposted a goofy post of mine where I intereviewed myself, and has been a stalwart supporter and friend of WSMG ever since.  Her own blog is full of wonderful prose and pictures, shared in a quiet, thoughtful way, and well worth a visit.
  • Lola @ Sharp Pen/Dull Sword: Lola is one of the grooviest folks around, and one I've been lucky enough to get to know outside of the blogosphere as well.  Her infectiously positive attitude, warmly supportive vibe and razor sharp writing and editing style have been a real influence on me, and she's really helped shape my views as a budding fiction writer.  Go on over and join the Wolf Pack if you haven't already!
  • Donna @ Donna Hole: Donna has been one of those long-time bloggers that you can tell really enjoys getting around and visiting everyone.  She's one of the most frequent visitors here at WSMG, always taking the time to provide in-depth, well thought out comments, and she's a unique, generous person who brightens your day every time you come in contact with her.  Hang around her blog for awhile and I'm sure you'll see what I mean!
Anyway, thanks a million, ladies!  Thanks for helping me along on this writing journey and for being such a good friends! 

BTW, as a quick aside, I'd like to thank Matthew and Alex for setting this blogfest up.  It certainly is an inspired idea--and you should go visit everyone else too as I'm sure there'll be plenty of fiction-related lauding and high-fives to go around.

Now I'm off to see who everyone else is recommending!

*****

Check back on Monday where I'm gonna talk some about the Kraken as part of October's Monster Fest.  Get all the details here!

23 bolts from the blue:

LTM said...

oh, I love the three you've mentioned here! And I think the concept of multiple lives is supercool. I'd like to write a sliding-doors type story one day... :o) <3

Matthew MacNish said...

Jon Paul. Thanks so much for being a part of our blogfest. Looks like you've listed some cools blog here, I'll have to check them out.

Susan Oloier said...

I'll have to check out your three listed bloggers! It is nice to meet you as part of the blogfest. I do so like the concept of multiple lives, which we as writers seem to need.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I already follow Lola and Donna, off to check out Liza!

D.G. Hudson said...

Multiple lives, for sure. Perhaps that's what causes all the angst we feel at times.

Writers are a different breed.

Lydia Kang said...

Awesome blogs. You have great taste!

Angela Felsted said...

Great list of bloggers. It's been awhile since I visited Donna. I should probably head over there. Thanks for the reminder.

KH LeMoyne said...

I recognize Donna from Alex's blog hop last week - small world. Will check out the others. ~Kate

S. L. Hennessy said...

Wow, great suggestions. And love your blog too. Consider me a follower.

- http://pensuasion.blogspot.com/

Milo James Fowler said...

"We can't make it on our own" -- I agree; it sometimes takes a village. And this whole writer/blogger community is really something special. Thanks for the links!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Excellent choices, J.P! :-)

M Pax said...

Love the lines at the top of your header. Nice.

We do live multiple lives. Great article and thoughts. I know Lola & Donna. Will have to check out Liza.

oceangirl said...

Hi. Nice to meet ya. You have a beautiful blog. I live multiple dream worlds.

Wendy G. Ewurum: Blog Author said...

Wow, that is one fierce quote you got there. greetings from Pay It Forward

li said...

I find fiction writing has really expanded my horizons when it comes to researching certain topics and situations.And I've always been introverted, but I'm slowly becoming more inquisitive and talkative about people and their thoughts and experiences. Perhaps "writer" is one of the cloaks I now put on at will. :-))

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Awesome quote and great theory. I totally agree. I'm so sad that I missed this blogfest. :(

Liza said...

Oh JP. Thanks so much. I've been so behind on blogging and commenting that I completely missed this blogfest...and then I come here and find this. I am grateful, more than you will ever know. The bonus? You wrote this: "it's a strange kind of worry that--more than anything--drives you to write: fear of the life unlived." You put words to feelings I've never been able to voice. Perfect.

You made my day! (and more)

Donna Hole said...

I'm blown away at your kind words JP. Thank you.

I was reading your opening, and agreeing with you, thinking about my own multiple lives. Day wowrker, family, occasional party fun, and writer. I'm always thinking about "the lives not lived" no matter what else I'm doing.

I liked the analogy "as easy as changing clothes", because I feel that is exactly what a military man (our any uniformed professional) does to slough off the worries and demands of a life of service to their community (and to the world).

Thanks for being there for us all. And I hope you and your family are feeling better. Weird, but L'Aussie Denise also got sick after a stint in Paris.

......dhole

Donna K. Weaver said...

Great links. I even know some of them.

Dawn Simon said...

That is such a cool quote, and I like your theory on multiple lives.

I've met so many supportive people through the blogosphere. Great community. :)

By the way, I like how you show what you've recently read and what you're currently reading in your sidebar. SAVE THE CAT is so good, isn't it? And I loved PEACE LIKE A RIVER and SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS.

Jon Paul said...

Leigh--Sliding Doors is a cool film, and it really makes you think too!

Matt--Thanks dude for hosting this thing. It was a blast getting around to see everyone's post. Maybe you should make it an annual event or something! ;)

Susan--Nice to meet you too! :D

Nicole--Cool!

D. G.--They are indeed!

Lydia--Why thank you!

Angela--Sure thing!

Kate--Yeah, it's amazing how small and tight-knit this online writer's community is. It's pretty durn cool if you ask me!

S. L.--Thanks! I will!

Milo--I wholeheartedly agree.

Shannon--Thanks so kindly!

M.--Thanks. Quote from Napolean actually. :D

Oceangirl--Thanks so much for the compliment!

Wendy--Thanks!

Lisa--I'm with you. Something I didn't mention is that stepping into the life of writer is not as easy as the others, as least not for me (yet). But it's something to strive for! ;)

Karen--See my note to Matt. Maybe next year!? :D

Liza--My pleasure, truly. I'm really just returning the favor. But yeah, I need to get off the blogosphere and get to some critiquing! :D

Donna--Thanks! It's all in a day's work, as they say!

Donna K.--Awesome!

Dawn--Those are great books, aren't they! But thanks for the reminder: I need to update my Goodreads info. I'm a little behind!

Thanks, each of you, for stopping in and paying my place a visit. Have a totally groovy Monday! :D

Murugi Njehia said...

I am a new follower and i found you through the blogfest. I am glad i did,you have an awesome blog! I know one of your three blogs Donna so i will check out the other two! :)

Jon Paul said...

Murugi--It was a totally awesome blogfest, wasn't it!? Thanks for stopping by!

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