While having dinner recently, the lovely lady I was with suddenly asked, "How’s your writing going?"
I took a moment and said, “Are you asking about my new book?”
“Yes, tell me about it.”
She’s one who’s suggested I do a sequel to, Sons In The Clouds. And although I haven’t dismissed that idea, right now, I have another story which I’ve spent a great deal of time developing. In my mind, and my heart, I finally believe I’ve seen the true plot from beginning to end.
As I began describing the new novel, I told her about how I saw the characters; their pain and happiness, the places they were living and drama they were experiencing. I even went so far as telling her about a dream I had a few nights earlier when I woke up sobbing myself awake because the visions I’d witnessed were so intense. She sat and listened, probably noticing my eyes starting to water while speaking. I couldn’t help it, and then I stopped, not wanting to be on display in the middle of a busy restaurant.
I could tell the storyline moved her when she said, “I think you’ve finally felt the story you want.”
This happened once before when I initially met the editor of my first book. I remember handing over the rough manuscript for her to begin working on when she said, “Tell me about the story.” The same thing happened as it recently did; I began to get emotional describing the characters because I knew and felt them so well. Not wanting to scare her away thinking I was some sort of overly emotional character, I stopped, and continued talking about other things. She probably sensed my passion at the time, and later said that she’d drawn some tears while working on the editing.
Simply stated, if you don’t write with your heart, your soul, and delve into your emotional database while creating, your readers won’t feel anything either. Rather, they’ll simply close the back binder, flip the last page (if they get that far), and toss your book aside to collect dust on the shelf, forever. They won’t carry with them an attachment to your work and they won’t tell others about their experiences into the world you created. There will not be a connection. You will have missed your chance to generate an audience.
Like most writers, I read other’s work (although I didn't read much before I started writing). I study, interpret, and examine various blogs, books, and short stories from unknown authors like myself to those on the bestsellers lists. I look for certain qualities which move and touch me personally and deeply. I’m one who’s always on the lookout for that next great idea. But, whether or not the world loves it or hates it, if someone’s writing hits me in my gut, I know its author felt it as well.
I really love movies. But, for a movie to truly be great, the ones who wrote the words spoken on the screen had to be emotionally involved to capture the magic. They had to live with the characters insides their heads and imagine experiencing the same thoughts, gestures, heartaches, and celebrations as the ones walking across the silver screen. For a story to really come together and affect an individual in a prolific, meaningful way its creator(s) must find the heartstrings which bind the tale together.
So, what’s the best way to do it?—pulling images inside your head then placing them into the written word. And what gives truth to the well-known statement by Hemingway himself: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
For me, its commitment, time, finding inspiration, and delving inside something which is important to me; sharing an original story that pulls out emotions the reader never knew existed; giving him/her something that changes their way of thinking; and opening up their minds to believe the story is true. In reality, if you don’t believe what you’re writing, your readers won’t either. And for those of us who write fiction, receiving a reader’s trust in your storyline is something we continually strive to do.
When you write, do your readers get mad at, love, even hate your characters? Do they want to scramble and buy a ticket so they can travel to the places you’ve created? Are they feeling your lover’s kisses, sand on their toes while dashing across that beach, loosing breath chasing down that elusive murderer, or crying while watching those mistreated orphans struggle for survival awaiting adoption?
If your readers experience all, or only one of these, ole’ Ernest will be proud.
Thanks for listening…