|I have achieved the American dream:||One wife.||One house.||Two children.||A dead-end soul sucking corporate job.||My only legacy will be words.|
Writing on a deadline. After more than sixty years on this earth, much of that time spent writing meaningless drivel for others, I am finally writing for myself. More than just desiring to write, I am compelled to write. And I am compelled to write under a deadline. And that’s alright. I’ve done some of my best work under pressure. And nothing provides pressure like knowing that your life has an expiration date.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not expecting to cash in anytime soon. The thing is that since I had heart surgery last year, I have become increasingly aware about the importance of time and how it’s spent. I mean, sitting around watching Netflix is fine, but creating stories that describe my thoughts, beliefs, and experiences is much more important to me.
Men spend their whole lives hiding themselves away under the cover of masculinity or propriety or societal expectations, and I’m through with that. I write what I need to, and when I need to, because while I dance like no one is watching, the content of my stories is the one thing that I have complete control over.
So, does that mean that I’m giving up on the world to immerse myself in fiction? Of course not. The future, whatever it may be, is there for me.
Since our society demands that you can’t get nothing for nothing, I’m still working the same miserable job—and monetizing this blog by allowing certain ads—because someday I’d like to at least break even. And I have my family whom I love and would be lost without. Finally, I have a file of forty or fifty stories I need to finish and publish. All these are forward looking, as I continue to be.
Looking forward, what’s next? I’m about 38,000 words into my next novel (tentatively called ‘Clarice’), and what a ride. And it is a ride, because quite often I have no idea where we’re headed until we get there. I guess that’s the difference between deciding to write a novel and being compelled to write it.
Deciding to write a novel is like technical writing—and some writers do this very successfully.
- Decide on the genre and plot.
- Create and outline or a template.
- Create the setting for the action.
- Create your characters, including detailed physical descriptions and backstory.
- Plug everything into the outline or template.
- Edit, reedit, publish.
Compulsion to write a novel is more like having a fever—you just have to ride it out until it’s done with you.
- Wake in the middle of the night with a thought that might be a story thread and scratch it down on the notepad you keep by the bed.
- A few weeks or a year later, read about something, or hear about something, that triggers a relationship with your late-night thought.
- Mull over the relationship for a few days, until it grabs you and you find yourself scribbling notes down on a notepad, envelope, or any paper that’s handy.
- Start writing from your notes. Add more words. Any words will do. Write more and more, remembering that it doesn’t have to make sense to you, not yet.
- Step away. Have a drink. Mow the yard. Watch some TV. Do this until your mind is completely absorbed by the story swirling in your mind.
- Return to writing. Feel the characters ooze out of your pores onto the page. Close your eyes and see where they are. Become overwhelmed by their emotions and desires.
- Give the writing over to the characters, let them drive the plot, let them drive your fingers.
- When you can catch your breath—assuming you and your characters survived—edit, reedit, publish.
Which is it for you—decision or compulsion? Do you have forever or are you under a deadline to finish? What makes you put down the TV remote and grab your pen? What makes your creative juices flow from your mind to your page? And when are you going to get that story published?
So many questions, so little time. Start writing now!
© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh