I'm pleased to have as my guest, debut fiction novelist, J.B. Chicoine, to Over Coffee.
Bridget's topic compares her writing journey to creating a wedding gown. Creative skills become honed by deconstructing and reconstructing a piece of creative work.
Thanks Sia, for having me as a guest! I do believe this is my first guest post ever!
To start with, I’d like to share a little-known fact about myself: In a former life, I designed and constructed formal wear specializing in wedding gowns. (Even now, I love to grab a handful of silk taffeta, give it a scrunch and see how it holds its shape like sculpted butter!) Just recently, a friend asked me to have a look at her wedding gown that was ‘doing something weird—the back wouldn't lay flat.’ The second I looked at it, I knew what the problem was and rattled off, “There’s more lining than shell, so it’s bunching.”
How on earth did I know what the problem was, let alone how to fix it? She asked, as if I were some sort of miracle worker. I just shrugged. I dunno—experience, I guess.
Later on, I thought about my learning process—about the first gown I made, when I was seventeen. I was so proud of it. Not only had I designed it, but I sewed it up and wore it to a formal dance in my senior year. *cringe* It was horrid. I mean the premise—the idea in my head was good, but in reality, it looked like a polyester sack hanging from two thin drawstrings. That undertaking reminds me of my first novel, written over twenty years ago. I was so proud of it. I actually made people read it *cringe again*. Sure, I had been writing since I was a little kid, just like I’d been sewing since I was old enough to thread a needle, but when it came to constructing something complex, I was just winging it.
So, with big aspirations, I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan—oh yeah, I was going to be a big name designer! It took only one semester to realize that was not the career I wanted. I also learned classroom settings squashed my creativity. Just the same, in those few short months, I acquired some very important basic rules of design. I continued to sew for myself and, later, my children, but it wasn't until after I started doing alterations for a bridal shop that my skills improved exponentially. I had to muster the courage to deconstruct and reconstruct very expensive and elaborate formal wear I figured out what worked and what didn't work by being methodical and taking my time.
Here’s the parallel with my writing. I persisted and wrote more novels, but it wasn't until I had to deconstruct and reconstruct them—because three years and over 200 rejections from agents told me my writing wasn't yet proficient enough—that I really figured out how to write a good novel. I read some helpful How To books (my favored way of learning) and figured out how to apply the basic rules and principles. I found a few good beta readers that helped me cut away ‘the unruly stuff that wouldn't behave.’ Then I put it all back together until everything fit just right.
Recently, I completed the phase of writing that is akin to adding the finishing touches to a wedding gown—final edits on my novel, Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright that has just been released by Rhemalda Publishing. It was like sewing on the last of thousands and thousands of beads, adorning luscious silk taffeta, awaiting its debut. It is complete and it’s breathtaking, finally out of my hands, out there for anyone to see.
Now, I’m off to ‘alter’ some earlier novels of mine that don’t ‘fit’ quite right.
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UNCHARTED: STORY FOR A SHIPWRIGHT
When a peculiar young woman shows up at the Wesley House Bed and Breakfast with a battered suitcase and stories to tell, shipwright Sam Wesley isn't sure if she’s incredibly imaginative or just plain delusional. He soon realizes that Marlena is like no other woman he has ever met. Her strange behavior and far-fetched tales of shipwrecks and survival are a fresh breeze in Sam’s stagnant life.
Sam isn't the only one enchanted by Marlena. With his best friend putting the moves on her and a man from her past coming back into her life, the competition for Marlena’s heart is fierce. In the midst of it all, a misunderstanding sends Marlena running, and by the time Sam learns what his heart really wants, it may be too late to win her back.
Bridget Chicoine has been coming up with characters and stories since she was a child. She started writing seriously in 2006 and undertook educating herself on improving her craft and about the publishing industry. Working on her painting simultaneously with her writing, one creative outlet stimulates the other. Much of her inspiration comes from having lived near the ocean and in New Hampshire's Sunapee Lakes Region. Bridget has a contract for publication with Rhemalda Publishing and is currently working on several other writing projects.
Currently, Bridget live near Lake Huron in Michigan with her husband Todd, renovating yet another old house, and painting when she can clear away the debris and sawdust. When she’s not involved with a painting she’s working on various writing projects