A new book is like Christmas morning. It is a package of adventure and knowledge, wrapped in interesting paper, tied up with a bow, contents waiting to be discovered. Every time that I begin to read a story of my own choosing it is with the expectation that I will discover hidden gems and rare experiences to be found only in this tale.
It is exciting to be led morsel to morsel by a clever author. Not so obvious that you solve the mystery or find the end of the story before it is time to—but in an ordered, sensible way. It can be thrilling to immerse yourself in a story that bounces around and excites the mind with multiple possibilities, so much so, that you search for the point of the story until the ending. How skilled are authors who can write like this?
Most authors write with the desire to engage their audience. They also want to be engaged in what they are writing. We know that writing is work. Work shouldn’t be tedious, especially in the creative professions. I have written in previous posts that while reading a good book, I am in the midst of the action. It plays out in my mind’s eye as in a movie. Surprise, surprise—while writing my favorite stories the same thing occurs. I am engaged in the writing, so much so, that I write well beyond my time and word goals for the day, and only stop when my body cries out for food or rest.
As an author, I strive to write like that everyday. Authors know though, that things happen to stifle that state of writing. Maybe you have a 9 to 5 job, the phone beckons, children and pets intrude, or your spouse ‘suggests’ that a day off is necessary. Rysa Walker, author of The Chronos Files Series-Timebound, Times Edge, and unnamed third book, says, “I have to “unplug” except for my writing software and music, and go into the “writing cave.” She goes on to say that she has her children ”almost” trained to leave her alone when she is in her “writing cave” but “the dog not so much”. Other authors have shared that they rise extra early in the morning to get the peace they need to meet their writing goals. Still others stay up late after the kids are asleep, or grab a paragraph or two during their lunch period—whatever it takes.
The craft of writing is like any other craft or skill that you may have. Native talent can take you only so far. Very few (very, very few) piano players can sit down for the first time and play a concerto, in fact, likely they won’t be able to play ‘Chopsticks’. Those gifted few who can play any tune without lessons or sheet music still are limited to the talent that they were born with. Without lessons and practice they won’t be able to surpass that. Us normal people who are desirous of having that great success, must work our butt’s off in school and with practice—lots and lots of practice.
“I have to “unplug” except for my writing software and music, and go into the “writing cave.” She goes on to say that she has her children ”almost” trained to leave her alone when she is in her “writing cave” but “the dog not so much”. Rysa Walker
Developing stories that I described above takes much thought and writing. Nobody wants to read a story where the ending is revealed too early or tales where there is no solution to the mystery or resolution to the conflict. They are frustrating and depressing. Even if the ending is dark and sad, it is an ending. As a reader, you may be angry towards the author or characters, but at least there is finality. During my elementary school years, I wrote stories for assignments based on stories that I had read or television programs that I had watched. I usually threw in a twist on the original, such as, “Dandy the Tough Little Ghost” rather than “Casper the Friendly Ghost”. Of course ‘Dandy” was mis-behaved and used bad language. But, there definitely was a beginning, middle, and end to the story. Later, I wrote a short story based upon the John D. MacDonald “Travis McGee” series. Both efforts gained me poor marks. My critics (teachers) didn’t like that I used vernacular and grammar in the same style as my speech, a method that still populates my stories.
The point I am trying to get to is, you have find the ‘sweet spot’ that works for you both in time and in style. Don’t let your writing become tedious. Insert adventure into your life—somehow you have to find inspiration for your creative urge. Make your writing life as exciting as the stories you are writing. How do I do that, you ask? There are multiple avenues to try. Recently, I attended two days of the Heber Valley Western Music & Cowboy Poetry Gathering enjoying musicians and poets alike. I came home energized and inspired to work on my next story. Activities need not cost a lot of money, or any money for that matter. If you look around, often, libraries sponsor free readings by authors or poets, many have art exhibits. Bookstores (there are not as many as in the past) also have author and poetry events for free, where you can hear another author’s work and usually speak with them as well. There are book clubs where you can discuss stories and ideas, writer’s groups, conventions, etc. Maybe all it will take to keep your head in the ‘write’ place will be a walk in the park, or a trip to your favorite fishing hole.
At the beginning of this post I wrote, A New Book is like Christmas Morning. Let us agree, that type of story is engaging, waiting for our discovery as a reader. Those exciting stories are written by engaged authors. No matter if you write with a tightly outlined work or have characters who wouldn’t know an outline if they strangled on it; engage yourself in your work.
Michael D. LeFevre is the author of the newly published novella, “Ghost of the Black Bull”. He lives on the verge of the Great Basin, overlooking the historic Lincoln Highway, Pony Express Trail, and Hastings Cut-Off of Donner Party notoriety–literally in the midst of history. “There are so many anecdotes that lend themselves to dramatization, that I am at a loss of where to go next in beginning my next story.” He works at being retired, reading and writing. He is enjoying his hobbies as well.