A Writer’s Journey: The Kind of Writer I didn’t Want to Be (2nd Installment)
When I first dabbled in writing, I never dreamed that I would complete a novel, let alone four while working on my fifth. How could I tell people I was a writer? After all, I was this nobody who was raised in rural Upstate New York where my family’s ambition meant running a farm, with a sawmill as an additional means of income to keep us above poverty level. So, years later, when I was inspired to write my first novel, I didn’t tell many people, and those I did would see me get red in the face, prepared to be laughed at. That novel first began as a memoir, but two or three weeks in, I realized that I hadn’t lived long enough for anyone to give a damn what I had to say. But that’s when I thought perhaps I could take parts of me and fictionalize the story I wanted to show. And that’s when Laura, the protagonist, spoke to me…while I was in the shower, mind you, since a lot of my plotting took place away from my computer. It still does. She wanted to understand some of life’s big issues, as did I. So I began to write the book, having little idea just how it would unfold.
I knew, though, that in order to be a writer of fiction, I needed to read more fiction, and I figured I needed to read books from the best seller list to get a grip on how it was done. I do recall one best-selling author who had a novel on the list that I started reading. I won’t say her name but most would recognize it if I did. Besides, she is still pumping them out and very successful at it. Still, after reading several chapters of that book. I literally threw it across the room in disgust. Yes, literally. I found her characters, characters that she liked to dress up in designer clothes, to be nothing more than one-dimensional, and with a plot that was predictable. Without a doubt, I had a lot to learn about writing, but one thing I did know was that I didn’t want to be that kind of writer, and even though I will never come close to the success she has, I am fine with that. (Disappointed, but fine.)
As brief as it is, this is what I wrote in my journal on 9/26/1993:
I wonder what brings a book to life. I want my characters to have the breath of believability blown into them. I do not want stick figures mouthing my words. This draft I’m working on I believe they are finding their way, even redirecting the path I was bringing them down. I believe that’s good.
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