by M.L. "Matt" Buchman
One of the things I always enjoy about writing, and living for that matter, is the strange confluence of events. My world a few months ago was all about new beginnings. In my life I was moving and leaving a 30-year career to become a full-time writer. Every time I turned around, some other factor was feeding into that, news articles, random contacts from friends who had just made similarly drastic changes unaware that I was doing the same, and so on.
This time everything is pointing at place and time, especially in my writing.
Recreation: I have moved from the city of Portland out to the Oregon Coast. I love being out in nature and have missed that the two years I was living in the city. As much as I loved walking through the woods up to the Rose Garden (one of my favorite places in the Pacific Northwest), that's not being out in nature. I now often take my laptop down to the beach to write, that changes my scenes in interesting ways because when I need some new setting, it includes water, beach, people moving at a leisurely pace, birds, etc. My wife has also been exploring the area and has led me to wonderful isolated bits of woods and nature preserves. It's as if I can breathe again.
Learning: Then I took a week-long workshop about character voice, an intense immersion class for seasoned pro writers to move you to the next level on, you guessed it, where the character is from. Accent, attitude, opinion, pacing and how that is communicated by the character in the written word. Compare mid-West to New York to Italy. Mix in meek, wild, pushy, thoughtful. Add in superior, self-effacing... And suddenly place comes to life.
Speaking: This weekend I'm speaking about "Writing Your Way into Romance" at the Terroir Creative Writing Festival in McMinnville Oregon. (Terroir [per their site] (terr whah) refers to the site- and region-specific characteristics of a wine. Climate, soil and landscape define the wine grapes’ character. Like the vines that line the hillsides of Yamhill County, our words take on the qualities of place, growing rich in the soils of life experiences.) I'm hoping to talk about the shape and texture of romance.
Writing: Then I've, oddly in the same week for an odd confluence of reasons, finished two books, each of which were started separately months ago. Next week watch for book #2 in my Angelo's Hearth contemporary romance series, Where Dreams Reside, and the week following, a novella in my Night Stalkers Special Forces military romantic suspense series, Frank's Independence Day (no cover to show yet, sorry). These have led me to Seattle and Alaska for the former and the latter has had me doing some intense research on the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Panama City, and Bissau, the capital city of Guinea-Bissau, West Africa.
So, to say that I've spent the week thinking about the texture of romance as a landscape, would be an understatement. I find that writing romance is about both the texture of setting to bring the story to life, but it is even more so about the Terroir of the Heart. The shape of who we are and who the characters are. I do love the journey to new place and, hopefully, I can through the vehicle of the printed word, share a tale of romance that will take you on its own journey through the heart as it has taken mine. That's my goal as writer, perhaps as clearly as I've ever figured out how to express it.