Some people are fastidious, working with precision. We need people like that to design the marvels of modern life. But I’m not really into microscopic analysis or working with numbers although, I suppose I have some of that in my nature. You see, as far as my writing is concerned, the details count. Selling fiction to a naturally skeptical reader requires that the story be believable. Suspension of the reader’s reality is required in creating good fiction that draws the reader into the story and involve their thoughts and emotions.
There is nothing else I’d rather do than write. It’s not a particularly lucrative profession, but it has its rewards – a sense of accomplishment that is never spent. Creating new worlds as a backdrop for characters conjured from the imagination is a lot of fun. They say that writing is a lonely profession. And I suppose at the outset it is. But turning an idea into a story that others will want to read is actually an involved process spanning months or years involving the skills of many other artists and professionals. When you get to that point with a story you have written, expect it to take a year or more for a book to be transformed from something that makes complete sense to you to a work that will engage the imaginations of others.
Not to diminish the accomplishment of writing a draft, but the actually composition of a story is the first part of the journey. As a would be author, one is never aware of where an idea will lead. At its inception, the story may seem to be something entirely different than it eventually becomes. For example, when I wrote the beginning pieces of The Wolfcat Chronicles it was a college creative writing assignment to develop a character profile in two pages or less. Since I fancied sci-fi as my favorite genre, I created a fantastic being of blended characteristics, a wolfcat – though I did not name it that at the time.
Unfortunately, my writing instructor did not care for sci-fi and fantasy. And so he picked apart the profile. Some of his critique benefitted me in later development of the characters, but mainly receiving a ‘C’ on the assignment was a sobering experience. As I recall the instructor also spent an inordinate amount of class time explaining the tries and tribulations of submitting manuscripts only to have them rejected – based on his personal experience, of course. I’m not sure what the purpose of that was other than to perhaps dissuade us from ever competing with him for the attentions of a literary agent or publisher. For a true writer, no one discouragement morphs into part of the compulsion to write. I’m not saying we want to be rejected, but to survive as a writer one must learn to deal with the word ‘no’, even to the point of embracing it as meaning, ‘not yet’. A true writer believes in his or her story enough to continue refining and revising it until it is ready to be published.
The next time I revisited the idea of wolfcats was in the summer of 2000, some twenty-three years later . My first novel, One Over X was in edits with a small publisher. I was working three part-time job to help keep the family going until I found something more permanent. For entertainment I chatted online with a group of people who used to plat Dungeons and Dragons – a game I knew a little about but had never played. We contrived a virtual wolf pack and had character names.
One of the members of the chatroom called herself the wolfcat. I committed to writing a story about her. I figured a few pages would do the trick. Four hundred and thirteen of them later I had drafted the nucleus of the central story of the chronicles that now spans five 200-page books and draws into the story many of the character personas front he virtual wolf pack.
In the beginning of One Pack there has been a devastating fire that has destroyed the forest and charred the plains forcing the wolf pack into a direct confrontation with an ancient enemy. When I wrote the story I spend a good part of each day commuting back and froth between the Suntree area of Melbourne, FL and the greater Orlando area. There were extensive wildfires I had to navigate in other to get to where I was going and at times the smoke was so thick that it was worse than driving through fog. That experience shape the story contained in the book.
I’m not certain it’s a requirement for a writer mix elements of the real world around him or her with the fictional universe that makes it into words on a page, but I’m not sure how else one would make a fantasy seem real. In Fried Windows In A Light White Sauce, my current novel that is being published in a few days, the real world and the fantasy world converge as the main character, Brent Woods straddles the two parts of his universe. Fried Windows is another example of how a book starts off being something much less ambitious. Around St Patrick’s Day in 2012, I wrote a 5000 word short story. With the initial inspiration satisfied, I posted the story in a writers group to which I belonged and received a good deal of favorable feedback. Many suggested I continue the story, and so, I added pieces as discrete short stories involving the same characters – sixteen of them over the course of the next month or so.
Months later I added some connecting pieces to bridge the gaps in the storyline and create the framework of the novel. Not only did it become one of those quirky stories that that kind of wrote itself as it went, it also became the first story I composed almost entirely online, in installments, while receiving direct feedback from readers. By the end I had confidence that the story worked because a couple of down people had actually read the basic story line.
There is no right or wrong way to write anything whether it is a story, a poem or a book. Like the inspiration it may some from the perfect sunrise on the beach even thought he story turns out to be about something very different. It could be a something someone says or a particularly odd use of a word that triggers the internal process of your creativity. What I know for certain it that there is only my way of doing it and yours and I think that’s pretty much just how it needs to be. As writers we are not the ultimate judge of the value of our creations. The readers who hopefully will become our fans determine the degree of our successes and failures. And that is also how it needs to be.