Falling in Love With Your Own Writing

Joe’s Post #177

Listen to what Boromir says.

Listen to what Boromir says.

Is there anything better than falling in love? What about falling in love with your writing? Is that a good thing?

Well, no. No, it’s not.

It’s something I’ve been struggling with as I rewrite my novel, Yager’s War, for submission.

Set in 1940, it tells the story of a Chicago detective in Holland trying to find his missing sister before the Germans invade.

When I first wrote it, it had more of a mystery feel. Dead bodies. Gun battles. Lots of tough guy talk. Some hot sex. But from my writing group and my dedicated readers, it became clear that I needed to shift it a bit, and focus on the humanity of the story. Less Jack Reacher and more Gorky Park.

Why? Because I’m trying to write a deeper story. A story with emotional weight.

I spent a TON of time reworking my first 50 pages to see if I could hit this goal, and after many tears, much staring off into space, and a lot of bugging a published writer friend of mine, I think I finally got the right feel to the story. Good pacing. Some heart. Compelling characters in a compelling story.

If my novel was a kitchen, this is what I would like it to look like.

If my novel was a kitchen, this is what I would like it to look like.

For most of 2017, I’ve been hard at work recrafting the rest of the novel to be as good as those first 50 pages. It’s been hard and, frankly, a lot of the novel has been totally rewritten. It’s sort of like doing a kitchen renovation where all you want to do is replace the sink and end with redoing the counters, cabinets, floors, lights and adding a 75” TV, cuz every kitchen should have one.

But perhaps the toughest part has been letting go of some of my best writing. There was one scene that I loved. I loved writing it the first time. I loved reading it the second time. And the third.

It was powerful. It was emotional. Hell, I think I even gotz all the grammar right.

But here’s the horrible truth, a truth that we writers must face sometimes.

It no longer works.

The story has evolved in such a way that this beautifully written passage was no longer relevant.

It’s very sad.

It was hard to let it go.

But then I remembered what someone told me about letting go of things I’d collected in my house. You know, the sentimental things – the ashtray that my mom used to use, the chair my grandfather made that was now nearly in tatters, the 10,000 VCR tapes that I’d collected over the years… the things to which you attach memories, the things that have meaning but take up an awful lot of space and you no long need.

Well, someone said take a picture of those items so you’ll always have the memory. And, you know what? That worked like a charm. A friend saved me from being a hoarder.

So I applied the same principal to that nice bit of writing. I didn’t take a picture of it, but cut it out of the story and pasted it into a file called, “Things Joe Can’t Delete but Loves.” Like my original Sim City from, like, 1989 which hides somewhere in my computer games file.

Doing this allows me to move on.

And, hey, it can be resurrected.

And, hey, it can be resurrected.

In my mind, I imagine my kids looking at this after I die and saying, my goodness, Joe REALLY could write. Who knew?

Rest in Peace, Good Writing.

Rest in Peace.

More ‘It’

Joe’s Post #95

I am often accused of beating a dead horse.

Well, I’m too old to stop. I want to continue to look at the ‘it’ factor.

Karalee said it might be imagination and I thought, you know what, that’s not a bad observation, especially when we’re talking books over movies. 50

Great books stir us. Fan fiction gets written. Like when E.L James read Twilight, (and drank a few glasses of wine, me thinks) it inspired her to write 50 Shades. Blogs get posted (hey, just do a search for blogs on Harry Potter  and you’ll see what I mean ). Debates get started (whole forums are filled with Game of Thrones arguments and for the record, Tyrion IS THE BEST CHARACTER in the series, ok, the best!) Costumes made.

Wait, what, we all don’t make costumes?

Paula talked about ‘it’ from a writer’s POV, like what makes her want to write. And what motivates her to write is history. Her own. Others.

I totally get that.

Silk, wrote about ‘it’ coming from the heart and even, god bless her, quoted the economist. She’s bang on, as always. ‘It’ has to come from the heart.

And that makes me realize, we’re all kinda talking about the same thing, about where ‘it’ comes from both from us as reader and writers. hope

It’ inspires us.

Characters, setting, plot, laughter, tears, hope, fears, whatever.

For a book to have ‘it’, it must make me want to do something. It must spark my imagination. I want to talk about it, write about it, live in that world…

hobbitWhen I stole the Hobbit from my brother and read it, it inspired me to write hobbit fiction, learn dungeons and dragons (yes, I am that nerdy), and make more maps than a coked-up cartographer. When I read books like Sean Slater’s Striker series, or the Jack Reachers, or The Wheel of Time or LeCarre’s spy novels, I wanted to write books like that.

But writing can inspire us in other ways. It can make us better people. (and by that I mean wear a kilt after reading Outlander). It can make us think about things we hadn’t thought about. (I must have looked up every aspect of Mars after reading the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – however, the less said about all the maps and pictures I drew the better.) It can make us do things we’d normally not try (Bill Bryson made me want to travel and fall down a hill, oh and make maps.)

So, every book I’ve ever written has been inspired by someone else’s book.

And I want to write a book what will inspire others to write about my character’s backstory, or the world before or after my book takes place, or what would happen if my protagonist wore a kilt and loved to bind girls with silky ties?

A lofty goal?

Sure.

But why not try?

Now, lemme think. Has my book got anything that will inspire anyone to do anything?