How to Art ? by E.M. Storm-Smith

How to Art ? by E.M. Storm-Smith

How do you describe the process of making art to someone?

Since I decided to publish my books, I’ve been asked by a lot of people, “How do you write a book? Where do you get your ideas? What’s the first step?” And the real answer is – Hell if I know!

I’ve been a voracious reader all my life. I devoured the first three Harry Potter books in less than 24 hours after taking my little sister and her friends to see the first movie. I’ve read hundreds of Dean Koontz thrillers and still consume about one Jane Austen variation novel a week (or more – I’m up to 11 in 2022 already according to my Kindle! Yeah for Insomnia ). This is an addition to all the free fan fiction from my favorite online sites.

But I was never the obvious choice for someone who would one day write a novel (or 3 or 4 or …) .

My undergraduate degree is in Physics and Engineering. Today, I’m a business lawyer. All of my good friends (and my 8-year-old son) know that I’m an absolutely horrific speller. My math scores on standardized tests were always far and away better than my language scores. When I was in my 20s, my Facebook profile said my occupation was “Nuclear Physiciscist.” It was pointed out to me by several people that it was spelled wrong, but I left it up. I felt like it said something about me as a person that I wanted other people to know.

Fast forward a decade and here I am.

I don’t know when writing became my obsession and my creative outlet, but it was a slow change. While I was in graduate school, I had to get a lot better (and faster) at writing for my masters and law degree. Then, during the period between taking the Bar exam and starting my job, I needed somewhere for the nervous energy to go and voila, my first book was born. I’ve seen a few versions of a motivational poster that says:

“Earth without ‘art’ is just ‘eh’ “

And there are days where I really feel that sentiment. Since I started writing, the compulsion has been such a crazy force in my life. If you would have told me 15 years ago that I would have 2 finished full length novels published in a couple of years, I would have thought you were mad. 

The biggest hurdle, beyond finding something worth saying, is the mental block of actually sitting down to write 100k words in order. I started out posting my stories on a free fanfiction website, so I only worried about 3,000 at any one time. Just this next chapter, this next scene, that’s all I need to accomplish before posting something. Before I knew it, I had over two thousand followers and a bevy of wonderful comments urging me to keep writing. The positive reinforcement was a major factor in my early days of writing.

The first book did take just under 2 years to fully finish. But the second one took less than half that time and when I sat down to start book 2, it wasn’t nearly as daunting. I feel like the knowledge that I’d already done it once made it much easier. All it would take was some time.

So where do my ideas come from? They seem to come from no where and everywhere. My first P&P variation novel came from an imagined scene with Caroline and Lady Catherine that just popped into my head one day. The ending of the second novel came to me while reading an old law article about how the black plague created 400 years of problems for land ownership and entails in pre-industrial England. (Nerd Alert!!) The book I’m writing now, with a time travel element, just hit me in the face one day and I couldn’t put it down.

I know that there are many ways that people write books. Some have extensive outlines with most of the plot points figured out before they start writing. Other people let the story lead them on a journey. I’m somewhere in the middle. I have to know the last scene before I can start the first chapter. My outline is always vague and I certainly won’t let a good outline get in the way of a better scene unfolding at 2am. Most of the time I’m what people call a “pantser” (flying by the seat of my pants), however, I always have a destination in mind.

Fundamentally, when people ask these questions of me, I think they are looking for some validation that I’ve not changed as a person. It’s the surprise that I’ve written a novel, and that I want other people to read it, that shifts who I am as a person in the minds of friends and family who have known me for a long time. Sometimes I see on their faces that they need to put me back into a box in their mind that makes sense. This new information has changed me forever in their heads.

And that’s okay. I like surprising people.

No matter what your artistic medium, it is okay to break out of the box other people have put you in. It’s okay if what you love to do on the side is a complete tangent from your personal or professional life. If you are a pretty cheerful person IRL, but create morose art, Fabulous! Quiet and introverted but create characters who are larger than life, I am here for it! No matter who you are every day, if you are using books, painting, music, TikTok dancing, or anything else to fulfil a side of your personality that needs an outlet, that is perfect and your art is perfect just the way it is.

 

 

 

 

I’d love to connect with you! Come find me in all the usual places:

 

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11 COMMENTS
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Jean Stillman
Jean Stillman
January 23, 2022 4:19 PM

Love this piece. I am a huge fan of Dean Koontz and have all of his books. I love Historical, particularly JAFF books, and Sci-fi. I look forward to more of your work, so thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

Glynis
Glynis
January 23, 2022 10:38 AM

I’m also a voracious reader and have been since a very young child! I used to take my brothers’ library tickets as well as my own and worked my way round all the sections of our local library, rereading favourites as I went! We used to have a mobile library in junior school, a large library in my grammar school and an even larger library in the town where I worked. I used to read to my children as soon as they could listen and I took them to storytime at the library where they could then choose what books we would read! My junior school did spelling and mental arithmetic tests every week so I’m good at both but, alas, i don’t have the imagination to write myself! I do have several beautiful notebooks waiting for inspiration to strike (but I’ve had them for several years and it’s still not happening!) luckily there are many of you authors who feed my addiction with Darcy and Elizabeth stories so thank you.

DarcyBennett
DarcyBennett
January 21, 2022 3:41 PM

Wonderfully said and agree this is what is great about art.

Corrie
AuAu
January 21, 2022 1:28 PM

Seconding what Kirstin said- great post, especially the last paragraph. I got all choked up for a second. 🙂 I think that is so true about people grappling with their idea of what box you fit in, but I never thought of it that way!
Anyway, I also love Dean Koontz–gosh, that man can write!–and i can’t wait to hear more about your time travel story as you go! Thanks, Emily!

Kirstin Odegaard
AuAu
January 20, 2022 2:16 PM

Great post. I especially loved your last paragraph.

Cinnamon
AuAu
January 19, 2022 10:09 PM

Quite relatable.

J. W. Garrett
J. W. Garrett
January 19, 2022 3:51 PM

Oh-My-Gosh! That chart was hilarious. I’m a combination of both Neutral or Chaotic Panster. LOL! Blessings on all your hard work. Thanks for sharing.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
January 19, 2022 2:57 PM

Nice post! Writing really is a process as I am not one I never realized what goes into it!

Regina Jeffers
Admin
January 19, 2022 11:33 AM

I guess according to the chart, I am a Lawful Plantser. I know the ending and write toward that end. I also keep a “History of…” of each book with character names, descriptions, a calendar, and a bulleted list of events in each chapter in case I need to go back to change something. I did something similar when I choreographed dances or when I direct a play.

Riana Everly
AuAu
January 19, 2022 10:30 AM

I was the kid who could always think of at least five ways to spell a word, none of them correct! So I totally get you there.
I never thought of myself as a writer, but I keep finding short stories and scenes I wrote as a kid so I guess it’s been in me all along. My “split personality” is with music. Normally I’m the one hiding behind the couch because otherwise people might talk to me, but give me my fiddle and put me on stage and I crave the spotlight.
Thanks for this post. It’s so nice to get to know people a bit better.

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