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Two Pages (07/09)

You need to take breaths in the work you do, especially when you’re aiming to make certain points punch through and get the reader’s attention. I’m all for beautifully written books where nothing happens in an elegant way, but they seldom stay in the memory. Stories stick to you like a good meal and the great ones, they change you in some way. I am now 172 pages into Lawful Evil, and about to throw more bombs in the way of the characters.

You have to be cruel to them, if you want your story to have any motion, any sense of time or space. Test them to breaking point, show the reader that people have bad things happen, do bad things and that they are made stronger or are broken by it. Go mad in a controlled fashion and blow shit up, metaphorically or literally if you need to.

Note that I am not favouring one genre here, in fact, I sometimes think that the obsession with it stymies creativity. At a certain point, just write the damn thing and let the media and publisher/marketplace do the decision making on that point. Tell the best story within you, write it down, edit it, write it again, send it out, get feedback, get rejected, get accepted. I believe that a book written from a point of passion, that is on one level, honest and reflecting the individual author will find an audience. If not, that’s not the sole benefit to doing it. Chasing an external source of validation isn’t entirely the point of art, or any process related to it. To me, it’s about pursuing something for it’s own reward, a quiet glory that to borrow a metaphor about friendship, that’s like peeing yourself. You feel the warmth but no one else sees it. There’s something sublime about the delayed gratification, the honing of craft, the point where you look back at something you’d written and you know that you have written better work since then. In an age of instant, fleeting attention, there’s something primal about the journey from interest to amateur then journeyman, and all of it relieved by the obligation to be a master.

There are no masters, and a body of work can seldom be appreciated until death or retirement, so enjoy the work of it. It will sustain you more thoroughly than the end result, and the irony tends to be that success or recognition finds those who follow that and more importantly, finds them ready. Life is short, comprising islands of exquisite joy in an ocean of tears. Your art is a map to find the islands and the strength to keep going through the tears. until you find shore again. If your work reads like a sloth on muscle relaxants, has it’s plot borrowed from a cheese-induced fever dream and everyone hates it, but you loved it, then you’ve won.

If you have questions, ask them below. Talk about your processes, or want to share any insights then I am more than happy to receive and share them. We write alone to make sense of the world around us, so if you don’t have a writing group, then consider this a chance to get the demon monkeys in your head chattering to an audience.

 

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