My current work in progress is a novel called The Legend of Darkness and Light. It’s a good old fashioned, balls-to-the-wall, no-deep-message-here adventure story. Kind of a tribute to guilty pleasures, I suppose. Anyway, the other day I mentioned to my friend Pete that every time I sit down to write another section, I wonder if this is going to be a good read or not, but then I realize that I really don’t care because I’m having SUCH a good time writing it.
And I am – I’m having a blast. I’m actually hand-writing it, then quickly transcribing every afternoon so I’ll have a spare copy. Occasionally while I’m transcribing, I’ll go on with the next passage on the computer, but later on I’m back to the notebook. I even had to draw out a segment, since I tend to work out issues visually.
Pete said that, honestly, no matter how good or bad the story, if it was written with pure joy, that comes through and entertains the reader. He’s probably right, since he often is. All of my novels have been written with pure joy and excitement. The novels I try and just crank out for cranking out’s sake never make it to fruition, so that’s pretty much all the proof I need right there. A story that I can stay away from more often than work my way through is a story that isn’t going to get finished, and shouldn’t, because it would show in the pages.
There have been times when I told myself I had to get something done, that I had to follow a trend or produce at a faster rate, solely because it was the correct thing to do. It was what was expected, it was the norm, whatever.
That never works for me.
When I write what I want, and take a ridiculous amount of pleasure doing so, that’s when a novel gets finished. That’s when a story entertains, and finds readers.
I spent a couple of years purposefully trying to get traditionally published. I sat down and tried to work out what was selling – not what’s on the shelves now, that’s a trend you can’t bandwagon due to the time difference between shopping a novel and having it hit the shelves – but you can see what publishers and agents are buying, what they’re interested in, and try to fashion something that will catch their eye.
So I did, and I sat down to write a novel that I could get an agent to sign on, one that I thought publishers might buy. And I wrote, and I worked, and I found other things to do.
Finally I saw the light (again, this light will vary from person to person, your mileage may vary, Indy’s not for everyone, bla bla bla) And I returned to writing what I wanted to write. Writing stories I wanted to read.
It took me a while to realize this, but when I made the switch to Indy, and experienced the incredible freedom that afforded me, this was the final tether-snap. When I knew that writing whatever gave me ridiculous huge amounts of joy, whatever would fly off my fingers in my own mad rush to see what happens next, that’s what I needed to write. That’s what I love to write, and that according to my sales and free-read stats, is what entertains.
When I wrote with fame and fortune in mind, I couldn’t. It wasn’t fun, I took no pleasure in striking the keys, cared little about what was to happen next. I was too concerned with doing things “right” and “properly” and following the prescribed pattern of success. And, I’d let this little parasite into my brain, called a Writer’s Forum – worse thing that can happen to a writer, being surrounded by people like that. They spend more time on writing forums than actually writing. They take more pleasure in screaming the rules and regulations at you than penning an epic of their own.
But I digress.
The other day (if by ‘other day’ you mean a few weeks ago) I wrote a short story, the very first one I’d ever done! Woohoo – well, okay, hang on . . . I wrote shorts in High School, didn’t I? Never really thought of them as shorts before.
“She’s wandering again, Maude.”
Anyway, I wrote this short, just for fun. Just to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did. But then I thought “hey, why not try and sell this?” I mean, why not? After all, if it doesn’t sell, big deal. I’ll put it up on my webpage, or write more shorts and sell an anthology. When I went to Duotrope to find a market, I suddenly realized this little ditty was impossible to label.
Genre-wise, we’re given ridiculous labels, beyond the simple SF-Fantasy, Mystery, Romance pegs. We’re talking absurd amounts of holes, in all manner of shapes and sizes, and I realized this short doesn’t fit into any of them. Maybe Humor, but they don’t list Humor without subcategories.
Did I mention subcategories? Okay, before we hear from Ethel on this, yes that’s a subject for another blog post.
Suffice it to say, when I wrote before, I wrote for fun. I wrote for the pure pleasure of discovery and exploration. I wrote because it was something I had a knack for, and enjoyed very much. Then I got it in my head that I needed to write for publication. I needed to write a novel that would sell to an agent, then a publisher, then wind up on book store shelves and gain me fame and fortune.
Even after I learned the ropes, and the facts, behind traditional publishing, I was not deterred. I still assumed I had to write to sell, and ‘make it’ in the world of novel writing.
Then I figured it all out, had my epiphany if you will, and went all Indy on your asses. Then, and only then, did I find myself having FUN again. Writing with love, and joy, and excitement, in anticipation of what comes next. I found my nirvana, my happy place, and my readership.
And as luck would have it, since it was no longer my focus or my care, some cash, too.
Power to the People!
Make Love, Not War!
Did I mention Ether is free this week?