Elected

Go to a Museum: Author Tiffani Angus’ Writing Advice

Angus_Tiffani_2014

Tiffani Angus is another writer friend whose short story, “The Final Voyage of the World’s Oldest Time Traveler” is in the Athena’s Daughters V 2 anthology with me.  Here’s the link again to the presale of that book: Silence in the Library

In Tiffani’s own words below she talks about her story and her advice for all writers:  “Go to a museum!”

*****

As a creative writing teacher at university and a graduate of writing workshops, I’ve had several years of both giving and taking writing advice, from small nitpicky things (such as ‘avoid adverbs’) to bigger stuff (such as ‘finish everything you start’). Some has been incredibly helpful, but even the not-so-helpful tips have had value. I’ll share a general tip and a more specific one.

The general one is simple and everyone’s heard it but it’s the hardest thing to do: read a lot and write a lot. I’ve had English majors and writing students tell me that they don’t read much or that they read the same book over and over again (and, yes, it’s so hard not to roll my eyes when they tell me this!). To be a good writer, you need to read all sorts of things–fiction and non-fiction–and experience various styles and voices. Reading a lot is easy; writing a lot is hard, mostly because of the fear. The Fear. It’s the biggest roadblock that my students face. It’s the biggest roadblock I face. Over and over again. There’s no easy way past it except to keep plugging away. The more you write, the better you’ll get AND the more stuff you’ll have written so you won’t end up burying one piece beneath so much emotional weight that it suffocates; the fear will get diluted across all of the work you do. A good book for this is Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orlando (I get no payment for plugging this book). It’s about the fears we hold for ourselves, the fears we have of others, and how to work through them to create art that speaks to us and for us.

A specific tip is more about creating in general than specific writing skills: go to the museum when you’re stuck. Any museum will do: art, textiles, steam engines, doll houses, fishing lures, whatever! I get a lot of inspiration from the items I see in museums and from the stories behind them: the stories behind the pieces themselves (what they mean) and about the artists/creators. We study other writers to learn how to write, but we have to experience life outside of books to have something to write about, so museums are my go-to shortcut for new ideas. My latest work in progress, a fantasy story about John Tradescant the Elder in the early 17th century and a grieving girl in the 1950s, was inspired by the Garden Museum in London.

Final VoyageStory: “The Final Voyage of the World’s Oldest Time Traveler”

Ernestine Klein is alone in a retirement home but for her memories of her years as a time traveler for the Institute and an antique glass jar that holds a strange amber light. Her contract entitled her to one final trip, one way, to any-when of her choice and now, at 112 years old, she is demanding the Institute make good on the promise.

You can read more about Tiffani at:

www.tiffani-angus.com

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required


© 2012 through the United States Library of Congress.