Write Deeply

In Craft, Musings on April 25, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Some good writing friends of mine have had the unfortunate job of holding both my hands, and my head, up through the revision process of my novel.

Yesterday I had a bit of a meltdown as I sat gnawing on how to make my opening few chapters compelling, but more to the point, publishable. I began to dream up scenarios, new plot twists, actions that would take things in new Bigger, Better, 100% More Free directions…

In other words, unnecessarily complicating my story.

These dear friends of mine took hold of my wild, pacing beast, and spoke soft, gentle words in her ears. “Hey,” they reminded me, “If you write with only publishing in mind, you lose the important stuff…letting us into the heart of your character. Making us care about her.”

While I didn’t gentle immediately–that took red wine, a good book, and a night’s sleep–somehow their words did make it past the Tortured Artist into the Rational Thinking part of my brain.

And I remembered: If you aren’t writing to go deep, to get somewhere meaningful, but only with the empty and rabid hope of publishing, then what is the point?

There has to be joy in the process, and meaning in the work. And I thank my friends for holding onto the chains long enough for my agony to subside.

And still I wait for my character to open herself more fully to me. But what’s the hurry?

  1. Good advice to remember. You’re lucky you have friends who know how to be a…let’s see…Writer Whisperer!

  2. Amen :o)
    (and it is such an honor to be a friend/companion on this journey with you)

  3. I second the Amen. Though I often want to duck for fear of something being thrown at my head from 3000 miles away, I am honored to bear witness to and be a part of this incredible journey you’ve embarked on.

  4. Girls, you’ve both influenced this process so much, and are so invested with me, that the Amen is all mine.

  5. Someone asked me the other day why authors always thank their spouses and mothers and friends in the dedication. He found it shmaltzy. I didn’t tell him how much these folks have to put up with. It’s hard to explain the depths of crazy we can all get during this process.

    • India, SO true. And that “someone” is kind of dense in this regard, I’m afraid. Why wouldn’t you thank your spouses and parents!


  6. It’s amazing how life is like a 400-page novel.

    Jordan, you just became 100% real for me.

    It’s almost as if you were the protagonist of a novel I’m reading. (Even more so since I literally only read what you say through internet versus speaking to you in person.) I’ve known you as my teacher, and as an editor – not as a real, multi-dimensional person. (I’ve only seen ONE side of you, let’s say).

    But, when you shared what was going on in your mind, you simply leaped off my computer screen. You became REAL. You have issues just like I do, and I identified with you.

    And just like with the protagonist of a novel, now that I know your flaws, goals and desires, you’ve become more sympathetic and have made me want to follow you on your journey.

    In short, I’m pulling for you. And if this part of your life were to be equated to a 400-page novel, I would say we’re at page 300. It’s safe to say you’ve already hit the crisis point (LOL!), and you’ve had your epiphany. Now you’re prepared to reach your climax.

    Make a page turner!

  7. Dwayne, ah, this was a very sweet and much needed comment. Thank you. My writing friends were pointing out to me that one of my problems with my own novel was that I was stuck in “teacher” mode and not writing from a real place…so thank you. I’m pulling for you, too! Hope to see you in future classes, or just keep in touch.

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