Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sparking a Wild, Creative Delight!

“If you don't allow yourself the possibility of writing something very, very bad, it would be hard to write something very good.” --Steven Galloway

This month I finished the novel I'd been grappling with for longer than I care to admit. It's no surprise the first and second drafts took some time. This is a completely new genre and the jump from rom-com to mainstream mystery suspense was quite a leap. I worried and I fretted about plot points and tension until I thought my head would explode. Finally, with a sigh of exquisite relief, I wrapped it up and shot it towards my crit partners.

Their response floored me.

“You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you're writing.” --Gene Wolfe

They loved it. *faints* I about hit the floor. Sure, there are issues to be addressed, 'crutch words' (those pesky verbs or adjectives we unwittingly become addicted to) and a few minor "huh?" moments I need to correct. However their collective response has been overwhelmingly positive. Even better, they seemed to believe my writing took a giant leap forward with this genre. Woo-hoo!

However, truth be told, a small secret part of my soul is unsurprised this book stands out from my past novels. Why? Because this is the tale I yearned to write but feared I could not. Which means I had to dig deep to pull it forth from my psyche while simultaneously releasing any inclination to simply 'tell' the story. I had to live it. This is my voice, not the voice that appealed to me. I found myself relating to my characters and recognizing how they embodied qualities of my own being. Weird. Exciting. Scary. Invigorating. These characters spring from our souls as we give birth to a new world.

“The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my fourth novel. Some folks start off knowing exactly what they 'should' write. Others haven't a clue, only a burning urge to compose tales that sweep their readers away. Ironically, whether the original choice is the right one isn't really evident until after you've got a few books under the belt.

The rush of satisfaction after completion is the same whether you've tagged your true voice or not. The thrill of plotting out an intriguing story is also pretty much the same, as far as I can tell. What is decidedly unique is the recognition I felt when I read through this novel. An inner knowing that this is definitely my voice.

Most writers start off believing their first novel is The One. For a few that is the absolute truth. The majority of writers must contend with a number of rejections before finding success. If a writer isn't prepared for the long haul, this fact can be devastating. However, I want to urge one and all to cling with a fervor to your dream, burn with enthusiasm and a fierce determination to not only reach for but to surpass all your goals.

“You sit down and you do it, and you do it, and you do it, until you have learned to do it.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

“Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it...” --Michael Crichton

Yes, the process will eat up the hours, leave your back cramped, your eyes bleary and your butt fairly numb. *grin* Getting published is of course the most obvious finish line for most of us. Less obvious is the surge of satisfaction that springs from honing your talent. For the musician, each new chord mastered means a song once out of reach is now right at your fingertips. For an athlete, the grueling workouts and dedication improves performance and the challenge that once seemed overwhelming is conquered with ease. A cook discovers that recipes that previously seemed daunting are now, literally, a piece of cake!

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. ~Thomas Alva Edison

There are no easy methods of learning difficult things; the method is to close your door, give out that you are not at home, and work. ~Joseph de Maistre

Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still. ~Chinese Proverb

Embrace your dreams. Be patient with the effort involved as well as with your own misgivings. Persist beyond reason and not only will success be yours, the brilliance admired in others will someday shine from within.

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek." --Mario Andretti

No matter which road you choose to travel, invest yourself in that choice. Too many times we become half-hearted, unable to work up any enthusiasm because we're not really committed. Who can blame us? The writing life is an uncertain one. It requires tremendous effort and a propensity for delayed gratification. Simply put, there's a whole lot of work and the possibility of years before we see any reward. Being a writer is not for the faint of heart.

If you have made the choice to succeed, count your success anytime you finish a scene, or revise a chapter, or are courageous enough to send out a query. Count your success by your patience, your persistence and your passion.

Success will never be a big step in the future, success is a small step taken just now. ~Jonatan Mårtensson

Ready to take that step?

Here's to a week filled with success!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas


Kathy Holmes said...

Awesome post, Chiron! I'm refocusing on a suspense wip I started far too long ago. I kept getting stuck, maybe because of those tricky plot points you mentioned and because it wasn't my usual "fun, beach read." You encourage me to keep going - I must finish this because I really do love it - it's just different and out of my comfort zone, although hubby keeps telling me I'm a natural for this - oh, could it be my dramatic nature? :)

Cheri LaClaire said...

It was my fourth novel that really 'clicked' for me, so this blog really resonated. Awesome post!

Julia Smith said...

Wow, Chiron - this post came along at a perfect time for me. Thanks!

And yay on your voice discovery! Funny how you were attracted to write in a style you admire, yet your own voice was something else again.

Chiron said...

Hi Kathy!

I really am going to encourage you to keep plugging away on the suspense. I'm not exaggerating about how long this took me compared to my other 'fun, beach reads'. *grin* But the satisfaction for this one is off the charts.

Now, of course, there's more work to be done (with my wonderful crit partners suggestions at ready), but it's such a thrill to master another genre!!

It's like... hmmmm... It's a Small World vs. Haunted Mansion. ;-P Go for it!!!


Chiron said...

Hello Cheri!

So I'm not alone in this!! Nice to hear. :-D Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!


Chiron said...

Hi there, Julia!!

Glad the post had good timing for you, my friend! Yes, it is kind of funny finding such a (no pun intended) dramatic change in my voice. Of course some of my earliest reading was the Alfred Hitchcock magazine short stories, along with many mysteries (my mom took home at least ten books each week from the library), so maybe it was buried deep in my subconscious all along. Hmmm...

Thanks so much for visiting!!