On Writing: Persistence

September 18th

What's at the end of your rainbow?

I have had several inquiries from friends and family in the last month.

“So, is this next book ever going to be done?”

Yes, but not quickly. Or easily. Novel #2 was 60% completed when I realized the perspective was wonky. This is one of several growth points taken from “Under the Same Moon.”  I am rewriting, chapter by chapter.

You know — when you practice, you get better. Novel #2 will be stronger than novel #1 — but this requires buckets of humbling work. I’m taking classes, reading books and editing. (Nothing is so painful as cutting away pages you think are clever, but recognize as unnecessary.)

One of the classes I’m taking includes reading short stories of well-known authors. This week we read Amy Bloom’s, “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You.”

She writes, “Sophisticated readers understand that writers work out their anger, their conflicts, their endless grief and rolling list of loss, through their stories. That however mean-spirited or diabolical, it’s only a story. That the darkness in the soul is shaped into type and lies there, brooding and inert, black on the page, and active, dangerous, only in the reader’s mind. Actually harmless. I am not harmless.”

I started writing Novel #2 in 2008 when I was newly running a non-profit for the first time and dating difficult man. Several of the themes from the story come from that period of my life — which was severely lacking in grace. The last four years have provided space from that painful time; I have to dig deep to get to the emotions that were once written across my face. This is fantastic for today’s happiness, my current relationship, etc. — and difficult for writing. You’ve got to relive the anger, conflict and grief that inspired the story. Similarly, the disappointments of working in Mozambique inspired novel #1.

I’d guess most writers use their art as therapy; God knows many of the writers in my varied writing groups are rehashing previous life experiences under the guise of fiction.

To be clear: that is not what I’m doing with Novel #2. But, life is the best source of material. Any author who tells you otherwise is a liar. Real life folks inspire characters. Horrible news clips give creative plot points. Trying emotional times provide the necessary drama to get a story moving.

What's at the end of your rainbow?

One quote in particular rang true at the end of the piece:

“I have made the best and happiest ending that I can in this world, made it out of the flax and netting and leftover trim of someone else’s life, I know, but made it to keep the innocent safe and the guilty punished, and I have made it as the world should be and not as I have found it.”

That’s the joy of writing — making the world as it should be, not as I found it.

The goal is to have Novel #2 ready for final edits by December 31st. To make that happen, I’ve got quite a bit of re-writing to do. Thank you for all of your kind words and encouragement.

That pot of gold? The very best novel I could have written. Not grimacing when someone says they purchased my book. A series of signings where I hand a copy of this story to those same friends and family knowing this time they won’t be returned with editing remarks.

Back to work,

~K

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6 Responses

  1. It’s hard to write and get the emotion out but not have it overpower what you are trying to say. Sometimes it comes out like a tidal wave. Keep working. It will all pay off! We will wait for your next novel! 🙂

  2. Wait, some people handed the finished book back *with editing remarks*?!?

    Unless this was in response to a specific request from you for same, I’d tell those “friends and family” to take their editing remarks and shove them up their too-tightly-clenched butts. It’s a finished work. It stands on its own, warts (such as they may be or appear to anyone) and all.

    Anyone who wants to do unsolicited editing should write their own copy and edit it to their heart’s content. Or, edit someone else’s work and keep their precious, unsolicited opinion to themselves.

    jt

  3. I am so impressed that you manage to do this hard work of writing, rewriting, editing, etc. and still have a full time job, busy social life, garden, etc. I have very little brainpower left at the end of the day. Kudos to your for living your dream – and by all means, take the time you need to make it the best it can be.

  4. BrentBucho September 18, 2012

    ” There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway~

  5. I look forward to seeing you at Changing Hands again.

  6. Hey, no pressure here. I know that you’ll do this as everything else in your life…..perfectly! And I’m in line to read the final result, coz I’m sure it will be a pleasure.

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