Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Reward

Something has been tugging at me, pulling me down the last several days. I haven't felt myself. I tried to sit down last night and couldn't. Today, I figured out what it was. You see, I'm a thinker, a planner. If I see X and then Y, then together they must add up to something. The analytical side of me has this subconscious calculator that says I spent such and such amount of time writing, plus such and such amount of money to publish, that must equal less than so many book sales x so much royalty dollars per sale. Or something like that. The thinker in me expects a return on the investment I made.

That's not why I wrote ON FALLEN WINGS. It isn't.

A friend at work sent me an email today. She was at home and her message to me said something like this. "I'm sitting here bawling. I just finished your book and it was wonderful. You better not make me wait very long for the sequel. I'm so proud and amazed that you created this. I felt like I walked and lived with the characters. Thank you."

I made my friend cry. My book made my friend cry.

A couple days ago, my wife's sister emailed her and said that she had yelled at Rhiannon at one point in the book. Yelled. She was so caught up in the story and could see what might happen next, that she was telling the character in my story to stop.

I don't think I'm that different from anyone who wants to be successful as a writer. My book is out so I keep checking back to see my rankings, to measure how I'm doing against other works like mine. I want to be at the top. I want to be the best. Who measures the best? Amazon? NO. As an artist, my reward is knowing that I stirred something in my audience. To see their tears; to hear their yells; to discover that what I did inspired them to react is better than any amount of money I'll ever make in this adventure. Today, I got my reward. Thank you.

It's time to write.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why I Write (again)

I’m stepping back in time today and sharing some words I first posted last April. There have been a lot of new visitors to the site recently, and I feel like it’s important that you know the reason why ON FALLEN WINGS is written in first person.

Here’s a link to the original post: Why I Write

When I started this adventure, I knew nothing about writing a novel. Nothing. I figured that all it took was a unique story, the determination to capture it, and then the knowhow to send it to a publisher to print. Many years before, I had filled my days writing stories and poems, so I thought I could pick up a pen—or a laptop—and let the words flow to publication. Then I started writing.

The more I wrote, the more I realized how little I knew—about EVERYTHING. The grammar was horrible, the story was flat, and the future of my na├»ve ambitions had been exaggerated. Still, I wrote. Every page I keyed told me something about the characters inside and a little bit about myself. I was learning. I started studying the rules again, paying attention to the grammar I had forsaken and shunned, and learning about the industry. I played with my outlines and worked to develop subplots and complex characters. I challenged myself to write better and more often. I kept writing.

Slowly, a habit formed. I had to write. It wasn’t an option anymore. Like breathing and eating, the need to create wrapped around my schedule and took every moment I could spare. I made mistakes. I edited. I chopped entire chapters and threw away complete scenes that didn’t make sense. (Incidentally, I keep all of those cut pieces in a file. You never know.) New characters found their way into me and the story continued to grow. Then I had it, my first novel. 68,331 words and a story that had a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s nothing great, in fact, I’ll never publish it, but it gave me the start of something that has overwhelmed and changed me.

The stories inside are screaming to escape. Soon after finishing the first book, I started on a sequel. I even wrote outlines for a third and a fourth book. The plot was amazing and captivating. Then a month or two into that, I changed my mind. I decided that I could write a better story about another character, someone who had appeared briefly in the first book. Immediately, I started On Fallen Wings. At first, I tried to write the book in third person. I was hooked to that point of view and despised reading books written any other way. I thought it was the ideal way to tell a story. Why not? Who doesn’t want to know everything that’s going on? The freedom of multiple point of view allowed me the chance to explore the story in creative ways.

Then one night, I tried writing in first person. The experience was amazing. I felt that expressing the needs and emotions through first person was a better fit. I found it easier to connect with the character and the story. This was also painful for me. My main character is a seventeen-year-old girl. I constantly read the words, “write what you know.” Teenage girls are not something I know much about and can relate to easily. Also, I was 35,000 words into the novel. Changing the POV at that point meant I was starting over. So, I did.

I decided that this would challenge me and was willing to suffer for the sake of the story I wanted to tell. I started over, weaving the same plot into the new point of view, discovering more about my character and her motivations in the process. Three months later, I completed the first draft.

I say it often because I believe it. Life is about experiencing the journey. For me, writing is no different. I’m a different person than I was two years ago. I’m also a different writer. Years from now, I’ll look back and say the same thing. I’m writing a new book now. When it’s finished, I’ll write another. I write for the same reason I live; I want to discover what’s on the next page.