First and Wait

Before a word ever hits the page (or is typed on the screen) some things have to happen. You must decide on a word that fits. You must have identified what is happening in the story. You have to be there. Before that a thousand other things may have needed to happen; the laptop needs charged or your pencil must be sharpened.

And before that?

Well, you had to have the nerve to decide to do this. Deciding to write a novel is not a task to be taken lightly. People write for something. They want money. They want recognition. They want their names printed in bold font on the front of their book; they want it larger than the actual title. They want to say it: I’m published! They want in on that elite group for whom a Google search turns up more than a Facebook “Not the So-And-So you were looking for?”

Writers want something. I want something too; it’s not any of those things I just mentioned though.

What do I want? Ask yourself that if you’d like. What you want is closely entwined with your why. I want water. Why? I’m thirsty.

First. You have to know the reasons. If you have no reason for writing that novel, you won’t do it. When you sit down at your desk or wherever and pound out another sentence there is something keeping you there. Opinions differ. Everyone has their reason. Novelists wouldn’t treat their books like children if they didn’t. Find the thing that drives you, that thing that keeps you doing what you do everyday no matter what.

For me, it’s that I can’t not do it. There’s a story in my head, a thin storyline coiled around my heart and it’s in my blood. I don’t know why I’ve been given this story and not another one that would be “easier” to tell. It’s not about me. That is all I know. It’s the same place my protagonist has arrived in the last chapters of the third and final book. Would it be easier for her to turn tail and run from the likely outcome? Yes. Would it be easier to for her to turn from her cause? Yes. Could she ignore what has been abandoned to the depths? She could. But she won’t.

I am not my own. Some things are not for me to understand.

First. It’s not about me. That’s why as a writer, my book is the product of blood, sweat, and tears. I bleed description, I sweat the emotion, and dialogue burns as it cascades down my face. This continual outpouring of words is my giving of myself. That’s what I want. When someone reads my novel I don’t want them to see me. I want them to see themselves and more.

Wait. Nothing is instantaneous. My writing is a patchwork of ideas and concepts. Some days I’m stitching scenes together in book one. Other days I’m careening down river in the chaos of book three. Sometimes I’m arranging the plot of book two. All in the same week; sometimes the same day. Bouncing back and forth in plot time as I write. That’s my storytelling style. I don’t just sit down and write a page. Is that frustrating? Absolutely. I’d love to actually finish something.

It’s a hard thing to be so struck by creativity, and unable to channel it forward. But that’s okay. It’s not about me.

First. The why. Wait. The how.

-RJ

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