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Friday, July 2, 2010

Guest Blogger: Mary Lawrence

Our guest today is Golden Heart finalist Mary Lawrence. Mary's manuscript, In Longfellow's Keep, finaled in the Historical Category.

A Wise Man’s Words…

Every writer has a favorite quote or two posted by their desk or committed to memory. These aphorisms may speak to specific shortcomings we, as writers, hope to overcome, or maybe they spur us on when all we really want to do is take a nap.

I have two specifically thumb-tacked to a corkboard next to an image of Henry Longfellow and a postcard of a painting by John Alexander. I feel a little ‘ju ju’ having Henry looking over my shoulder as I work. But the postcard painting is of a woman stretched across a Victorian couch, her silk gown draped luxuriously and spilling onto the floor. She is oblivious to the world and certainly to the artist painting her. What holds her rapt interest is a book.

“What I want to feel,” said Somerset Maugham, “is that it’s not a story that I am reading, but a life I am living.”

Not only does this describe my own response to ‘a good read’, but it inspires me to write so that my reader is transported to a magical world of total immersion in a book. To me, it is a gift when I experience that from a writer. Stories influence my mood, my attitudes, my happiness. If I read an author, then he or she had better leave me feeling satisfied. Otherwise, I feel cheated, even cuckolded having wasted the time and effort.

So it is with great sincerity that I try to give that experience to my reader.

Of course, there is no accounting for taste, and even when I believe I have achieved the sublime, there is always an editor to tell me otherwise. So my second quote spurs me on in the battle to find audience, ( i.e. getting published). “If you are going through hell,” said Winston Churchill. “Keep going.”

‘nuff said.

-Mary Lawrence


  1. Great post, Mary. I especially love the Churchill quote. Thanks so much for visiting us today!

  2. An interesting post! Thank you! Winston Churchill's quote was fabulous. May the publishing world take note of your accomplishment(s)!

  3. I can completely relate to this, Mary! I'm working hard on my current wip, trying to make it as "immersive" as possible. A story that transports me mind and heart to another place or time is a treasure and I would love to create one for someone else. So glad to know I'm not alone on the quest. Best of luck with your!

  4. Good luck with the GH, Mary, and thanks for joining us today. I love both of those quotes, particularly the DH Lawrence one. I am the same way--I want to be so completely involved in a story that for the amount of time I'm reading, I AM that character. I don't always manage it with my own writing, but it is certainly something to strive for.

  5. I love the Churchill quote. I may just have to post that by my computer. I feel the same what as you do in that I want to become emersed in another world, another life. Good luck with the GH.

  6. Thank you, ladies! I'd love to hear some of your favorite quotes. Some folks like to post affirmations, but I need wisdom from those who have struggled and overcome.

  7. Mary~
    Great post!
    I definitly agree about getting swept away within the pages of a book. And how that must be our goal as writers.
    Can't wait to meet you in Orlando!

  8. Keep the good attitude, Mary. 2010 can be your year. You'll find the right editor who LOVES your voice and your work.


  9. Mary,

    Loved the Somerset Maugham quote. There is a time and place, usually during the first three chapters of a WIP, that I feel my characters breathe. It is one of those magical moments during the writing process. Only then do I feel that I have succeeded in bringing the characters to life. So important to that immersion thing!

    Some quotes to add to your collection:

    "The story can only have one merit: that of making the audience want to know what happens next." E.M. Forster


    Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

    :) Jill

  10. Good luck with GH, Mary. I too, have quotes on my desk at home and my desk at work. Definitely inspires us, right?

    Hey, Mary. Do you have an excerpt of your GH story?


  11. I love that Chekhov quote! Oooo yeah! Phyllis, no I don't have an excerpt of my story anywhere on the internet. I'm mega new at this. I'm lucky if I can weed through all the rewrites and find the right one to send out. I'm a chronic revisionist. (Perhaps to my detriment).

  12. Both quotes are great! Thanks for sharing them, I'll have to remember Churchill's next time I am wading through editing hell ;)
    Good luck with GH!

  13. Best of luck with the GH, Mary. I love quotes, as well, depending on the mood I'm in or how much trouble the story is giving me.

    You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist. --Isaac Asimov

    A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her." ~David Brinkley

  14. Hi, Mary. You've got the right attitude for this business. Good luck in the GH.


  15. Mary, terric post and quotes. Here are two quotes that help me stop revising, immerge myself in the world of the novel and get it out the world.

    "You have to have made the committment within yourself to do whatever it takes to get the job done and to try to inspire other people to do it, because obviously the first rule is you can't do it by yourself." James Cameron, director of AVATAR and TITANIC

    "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
    Yogi Berra

    Good luck at the GH.

  16. Mary,

    Thanks for stopping by today and good luck in GH. Churchill has the best quotes. Here's one I like...

    "Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure." Edward Eggelston

    I've heard so many people say just when they were ready to give up, they received The Call. Keep moving forward. You'll find the right editor one day soon, I think. :)

  17. these are wonderful quotes! I love the image of my manuscript eating its head off in a drawer-- that puts a smile on my face. It is true that sometimes we must wrestle our little demons into submission and soldier on. And it's also true we can't do it alone. Supportive networks like these blogs, helps. Critique groups...friends, etc., etc. Thanks all for stopping in!

  18. Hi Mary!
    Wonderful post and really great quotes. Love the Churchill one.

    My favorite quotes are always funny--don't know what that says about me, except humor inspires me. Here are a couple:

    “My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier you’ll be a general; if you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and I wound up as Picasso.” – Pablo Picasso.

    I can’t write five words but that I change seven. – Dorothy Parker

    "Make your characters want something right away. Even if it's only a glass of water. Even characters paralyzed by the meaningless of life have to have a glass of water from time to time." -- Kurt Vonnegut

    And this one isn't funny but it's the most true: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do...so sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

    Thanks for reminding us all to look for inspiration all around us!

    Liz Selvig

  19. Liz,
    Kurt Vonnegut never fails to make me smile. I associate him with my rebellious college days. Love it, thanks!-Mary

  20. Hi Mary! Love the post! Sorry I'm late responding but I've been at the lake all weekend. I've learned to live by a quote since I was sixteen and pregnant. It works for any part of my life and the older I get the more it rings true.

    "Obstacles are placed in our paths to determine whether we really wanted something or just thought we did." By Dr. Harold Smith

    As you said...nuff said. =)

  21. Oops, am very late...

    Great post Mary and good luck with the GH. I tend to adopt a motto for each year of work. Last year was the "Year of No Excuses". I read those words every day and wrote and learned an incredible amount. :o)