Hi everyone! Today's guest poster is Abbi Nguyen. Abbi is a dear friend of mine. She studies Creative Writing at Southern Oregon University and is a newly published author. She describes herself as "another young soul attempting to unravel the mystery of the world. A vagabond at heart, a traveler and a couch potato, a library "frequencer," a believer in God and an agnostic...Filled with contradictions. [She is ] a writer that thrives on human predicaments, is sustained by the imagination, hindered by this prison of atomic structures, interested in character development and tragic endings, a good friend and a coward, a girl and a ghost, an admirer of human accomplishment and a recluse."
Please welcome her Legs!
It is a joy and an honor for me to appear here on Literary Legs. I love this website and Laura’s whimsical writing. Every time I read her blog, I learn something new about the subject Laura talks about and also about Laura herself. That is why I keep coming back for more.
Nice to meet you all! To be honest, I’m not so good at talking about myself. I’m a writer, and some of you may agree that writers are self-expressive people. That is true. I express myself by making up stories. I started a diary since the new year, but up until that point, I have never felt the need to relate my life. I was published for the first time this winter by BlazeVox magazine. It was the first story I wrote that was set in Vietnam, where I was born. I was really surprised at how much I remembered even though it has been nearly seven years since I moved to the U.S. Willa Cather said “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” I’m learning how true this is. I feel as if the core of who I am—my fears, my desires were formed when I was a child and I have carried them with me until now. However my stories are not biographical, they are entirely fictional.
If you are a writer, I believe that everything that has happened to you, all the books you have read, all the people you have talked to, manifest in your writing. At least that is the case for me. When I sit down with a cup of jasmine green tea to write, my imagination fills the page. I don’t use a plot. Not because I don’t want to, I have tried. Plotting usually hinders my ability to create. When I know exactly how the story is going to end, I try too hard to get there and all the scenes in between become contrived and dull. My belief is that if I don’t surprise myself then I don’t surprise the readers. Fortunately, I have under my sleeves two writers that would agree with me against plotting: Stephen King and Carlos Ruiz Zafon. In his book On Writing, Stephen King advises us to begin with a seed—a basic idea for a story and let it grows. He says that a plot can confine and trap your characters, forcing them to do things that are unnatural. Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind is also unplanned. I’m not negating the usefulness of a plot. If they work for you, that is wonderful. I just want to reassure the writers out there who create out of spontaneity and chaos to not be afraid to do so. I know that I once was. I thought what I was doing was unusual and a serious writer wouldn’t begin without knowing what would happen in advance. Today I am here to encourage you to trust your imagination. For a fiction writer, the most important question is only 3 words: What happens next? And if you can surprise yourself, then you may delight your readers too.