Getting Personal

Posted by: Shel 18 Comments

Two things very important to me (that I love talking about) are keeping marriage fresh and writing. Before I talk to you briefly about my writing, first up is a casual interview Stephanie Clinton did with me for her vlog at Hugs, Kisses and Friends Chat Show about how not to get divorced. (If you hurry up and turn it on, I’ll stop squinting at you with that weird look on my face!)


Now about the writing. Last week I was asked to participate in a “blog hop” by Dr. Lisa Marotta, (The Feelings Doctor) a renowned psychologist who works extensively with children. She also happens to be a writing buddy! She sent me four questions regarding the writing process and encouraged me to “tag” another blogger for you to visit next week who will answer the same four questions.  Here we go:

What are you working on?

Two things. A non-fiction project that came about as a result of the blog. It’s still in formation and I can’t talk much more about it at this point. And historical fiction – something I swore I’d never do because (to me) it’s such a daunting process. But the story is demanding to be written. And who am I to argue with my inner story? It takes place in the early 1900s in New England and involves Portuguese immigrants, textile mills, labor unions, murder, and empowerment. The research is overwhelming at times, but I’m learning a lot on the way.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

The fiction work will hopefully stand out because of the unique combination of content as well the distinct voice in my writing style. The non-fiction differs because of the source. Most writing on marital issues is coming from a religious perspective or a psychological perspective –  both offer a plethora of good, helpful information. My perspective comes from a couple of decades of seeing first-hand why people are getting divorced, what happens to them during the process, and how it affects the children. I have seen first-hand the commonalities in the process regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, and religious persuasion. My message of doing things differently in an attempt to get different results is based on addressing those commonalities.

Why do you write what you do?

I’m rather obsessed with the notion that many people who care deeply about each other get divorced because it’s less painful than staying together – my mission is to offer ideas for plugging into each other before it gets to that point. Much of what I write is basically reminders to use common sense – to go back to things that worked in the relationship. Kind of like having to stop and think a second about how to tie a shoe after years of wearing slip-ons and having velcro fasteners. I’m always on the lookout for good ideas and ways for couples to connect and reconnect with each other.

How does your writing process work? 

I’m not sure it can actually be called a ‘process.’ I generally write late at night because that’s an open timeslot – and it beats laying in bed thinking about an idea and turning on the light every 10 minutes to jot it down so I won’t forget it by morning! In spite of the fact that I try to keep a notebook with me, I have scraps everywhere of ideas that have cropped up – envelopes, magazine margins, restaurant napkins, gum wrappers. I try to herd all the scraps into files, but I’m quite sure many a brilliant idea has been tossed in the trash with the magazine or newspaper it was written on! I keep meaning to get a tape recorder so I can end the frantic searches for something to write on.

The next stop on our Blog Hop is the author of Beyond the Farthest Star and another esteemed member of my critique group, Dee Dee Chumley. Please visit her next Monday to see her writing process as well as more of her humorous posts. Or, as she would say: “Gems and Gimcracks . . . for young women of all ages!”

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  • How nice to see you ‘live’!
    Watched the whole interview.
    Maybe it would be a good idea to vlog more from time to time? You seem to do well for camera, comes across natural.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks for hanging in there, Mirjam – it was a little long for a post. Have you thought about vlogging? I would love to ‘meet’ you and some of my other favorite bloggers, too!

  • try speaking into your i-pad if you have one, it will record your thoughts….

  • Loved the vlog, and I always enjoy learning about your writing process. 🙂

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Sonia! As you know, I avoided the blog hop for quite some time thinking it wasn’t a good fit here. I was surprised at how such simple questions really made me think about what and why I write – I found it helpful.

  • Great interview, Shel, AND I enjoyed your responses to the questions. You probably have voice recording on your phone; you don’t need to carry separate recorder. Use a note app on your phone that allows for voice notes and voila! Evernote (which allows you to store notes in notebooks is a good one for me.) 😉

    • Shel Harrington

      Great idea, Natine – worth figuring out how to do! Nobody knows better than you how I tend to complicate (in my head) simple technology. Ugh! I’m always so amazed when I ‘figure it out’ how simplistic most of it is.

  • Arguing with the “inner story” is (almost) never a good idea. The story tends to whine, cry, throw tantrums, steal your sleep, and otherwise take over your life until it gets its way. Best of luck to you with your fiction and nonfiction projects!

  • Shel, you’re my heroine! The video was like listening to my mother’s wisdom. I look back over childhood years and remember Mom always met Dad at the door with hair combed, fresh lipstick, and a smile. Supper was on the table and we (my brother and I) were not allowed to interrupt the suppertime conversation with any problems of the day. It was a happy time…family time. Then afterward they dealt with anything that had to be taken care of that Sargent Mom hadn’t taken care of at the time of infraction. 🙂 It worked with them over fifty years…’til death did them part. And it has worked for husband and me for thirty-eight years. Good counsel, Counselor.

    • Shel Harrington

      Awwwww, thanks, DiAne! That’s how I was raised, too. In spite of the fact that my mother worked nights as a nurse. While my folks definitely had their share of ups and downs, they prioritized their relationship and took time to plug in and have fun together. Maybe explains why they just celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary with smiles on their faces?

  • Shel, you’re a “natural” for video taping! Your voice and demeanor lend themselves well to that medium (the squint at the start, notwithstanding). Thanks for the shout out to my blog.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Dee Dee. It’s easy to ‘shout out’ about a blog I enjoy so much – you always seem to hit me where I live!

  • Great interview, Shel! A tape recorder is on my list of things to purchase as well. It would make the writing life so much easier.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Jill! Natine had a good suggestion about using my phone – if I could only figure out how that feature worked! Worth finding out. Turns out taking and sending pictures wasn’t as challenging as I built it up to be, so maybe this is just as simple.

  • I wish I had the ability to write late at night. I am exhausted by evening and although I continue to work into the evening, it can’t be anything too creative.

    • Shel Harrington

      My husband worked nights for almost 20 years and I kept his hours most of that time – so a habit was formed. One that’s been very hard to break even though he’s been at a job where we get up at 5:45 a.m. for the past 8 years! Which is why, if I don’t have court,I go back to bed for a couple of hours after he’s gone. Sure wish I could switch to being a morning person – there’s nothing like that early morning air and sunlight to lift one up.

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