I finished another novel.
Thanks, but it’s a bit too early for congratulations.
The chances of Truth or Compromise (working title) getting published, at least the traditional way, are slim to none.
Does it matter? Yes and no.
For me, the only actual acknowledgement, in the real world, that I write well is if a stranger is willing to pay to publish my work. In the light of new technology and changes in the publishing industry I’d now go as far as saying I would feel acknowledged as a writer if strangers paid to read my self-published work.
So, does it matter if I get paid to be published or to be read? Yes.
On the other hand, do I spend all this time sitting in front of a computer, by myself, in my own head to make money? No.
I write because I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction crafting a well-written phrase, creating an original, appropriate metaphor, and discovering le mot juste – exactly the right word.
Then there’s the magic when I become the conduit for my characters, when the space between reality and imagination blurs, and they do and say things on their own volition.
I also write because it’s cathartic and a way to make sense of things. Betsy Lerner, literary agent, former senior editor at Doubleday, and author of The Forest for the Trees, put it in perspective when she said:
“What’s important, finally, is that you create, and that those creations define for you what matters most, that which cannot be extinguished even in the face of silence, solitude, and rejection.”
So if my creation defines me, how do I want to be defined?
Carol Bly, author of The Passionate, Accurate Story – Making Your Heart’s Truth into Literature talks about “Writing as a Moral Act’. She suggests you ‘build your fiction on strong ethical ground. Even before beginning to write a story, Bly suggests you prepare a “Values Listing,” a written record of the things most important to you.
Throughout the writing process; in the sketchy, first draft, through the crafting of structure and plot, in the imagining of character and setting, she encourages your to return to this list to ensure these values continue to be identified in your work. That means these values are present in the issues and conflicts your characters confront and that they themselves are grounded in or address these same principles.
This resonates with me because it allows me to research issues and advance my causes indirectly with a fictional interface. Maybe I’ll even learn something along the way. Besides, I can’t understand how an author can spend all the time it takes to write a novel in the company of characters that are immoral, unethical, marginalized and without redeeming qualities.
My Eco-Warrior Series (Spirit Bear, Eagleridge Bluffs, and Not Wonder More) afforded me the opportunity to research a whole host of environmental issues, as well as natural healing plants and remedies, and other medical related topics including schizophrenia.
In my latest novel, Truth or Compromise, I researched the impact of the illicit drug trade and the affects the billions of narco-dollars have on our society from the governments we elect, the wars we fight, economies large and small, even friends and family.
The key in choosing any kind of subject matter is to follow your own interests rather than an idea about what someone else might find interesting, acceptable, or shocking. Some writers, anxious for approval or success, may listen to the voices from outside, or to their ideas of what the marketplace might want, and so go astray. To resist this requires a continual setting aside of worldly goals. Only then do we make the kind of writing that readers become passionate about. To do this we must give ourselves permission to write anything at all. It can help to imagine, while writing, that no one else will ever see the story, or at least never see it in its current form.
The Longman Guide to Intermediate and Advanced Fiction Writing
By Sarah Stone and Ron Nyren
So there you have it. I set aside my worldly goals and give myself permission to write anything that interests me imagining no one else will ever see it. Which, in actuality, is more likely than not.
Is this writing that ‘readers become passionate about’?