Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Two Steps Back

Yes, one might think that things always work out this way-two steps back for every one step forward.

But, in this case, I think a couple steps back is just what I needed. I recently posted an excerpt of a story I'm working on. It was an idea really, in draft form. It was my attempt to add some depth to a character in a story.

Well, a big thank you goes out to Donna Hole, the only person responding to the post and having the cajones grandes to set me straight with some real solid honest feedback. Of course, I must also thank my wife who, after reading the excerpt and Donna's statement, agreed with everything she said.

I must admit, the feedback from my wife broke my heart, but that's a good thing. Sometimes a broken heart is an open heart. It took this to get through my pride and make me step back and see this more as a reader than the writer; the creator.

So, what am I doing with this now? After some evaluation, I realized that everything was wrong with this character. Where's his vulnerability? Where's his badass personality and actions? You see, I was trying to create a character fit for the story at hand, and I was trying to force the story arc in a direction of romance. If I have two very strong, independent personalities working with, and sometimes, against each other, are they just going to fall in love?

I'm falling in love with the story again. Not the story I wrote but the story still in my head-the story that is being re-written. Joseph Johnson is cocooned in my head right now reforming; becoming stronger, badder, colder, more vulnerable. And when he emerges, even his new name will support his character.

You see, sometimes, in writing, the author must take a step back and allow for some real growth and changes. I find so often that writers I know (myself included) respond with argument to honest feedback-even when they ask for comments or feedback. One cannot expect to learn and grow if one does not open their ears, eyes, mind, and heart to the possibility.

The wait may be just a little longer for this story to re-emerge but I hope readers will find it all worth it when it does. For those of you that already read this story in its previous form (Summer Ellis) I only hope you approve of the reincarnation.

If this post were to amount to some advice to be dispensed among my author friends, it would be this: ninety percent of what we write is going to be crap, that's okay. Give yourself permission to write it, judge it, and then lock it away. Just don't throw it away because you never know when some spark my bring it back to life.
There is a relatively success author by the name of Stephen King that once told an audience about a book he first imagined back when he was in high school or college. He wrote a chapter or two before putting it away because he just couldn't seem to make it work. Years later, he reopened his work and realized that he just didn't have the ability in his younger years to write the story. He realized that, in his youth, the story was too big. Armed with all the tools of a well-seasoned author he finished the story. It was called "Under the Dome" and was even picked up as a television series.