So, it’s been a while since I’ve written on this blog. Without getting into the gory details, I was too busy dealing with family illnesses to be able to write. Actually, it wasn’t that I was too busy–it was that I couldn’t. I couldn’t write–an act that to me is a joyful exercise–while I was in the midst of some not-so-joyful stuff.
My wife kept telling me that I should be writing. She said that writers do their best work when under emotional strain. That their writing under such conditions brings out their best, most pure feelings. That some of the most famous novels were written by authors who were suffering.
Well, if that concept applies generally to all writers, I guess I am the exception to the rule. I just couldn’t do it. Not one word, for a long while. Not here, not on my new book project. But, as with all things, time acts as a salve (any fans recall where they read that line before?), and I feel capable of writing again. Thank goodness!
I am busy finishing up the new book, but not quite ready to give any spoilers. Umm, ok, a little spoiler: If you grew up at or around a small steel town in the late 70s, the scenery will be very familiar to you. ‘Nuff said (for now).
The most common question I’ve been asked by my readers is how I come up with ideas for my books. The truth is that every day ideas pop into my head for a new book, and they just come from my observations. What I read, what I watch, what I see. A person walking alongside of a country road — there are a whole slew of potential stories there. A story in the paper or on the web might trigger an idea, or even standing in line at a grocery store. I see something or somebody, and nuances frolic through my mind. The ideas are always there. But, to state the obvious, it’s what you do with the ideas that matter. A quirky thing that I do though, is avoid reading any book that I think might involve the same situation or general story line as one I’m working on, because I don’t want to risk that something I’ve read is going to find its way into my writing. When I was writing Sandy Cove, I was watching television one night and a promotion for Nicholas Sparks’ Nights in Rodanthe came on and I had a mini panic attack. I didn’t even know what that story was about, but I knew that Rodanthe is in the Outer Banks and that Sparks’ books are love stories, which was exactly what I was writing. I did the “lalalalalalala” and put my hands over my ears. Ok, it’s weird, but I wanted to be sure that I didn’t taint my writing with his story line.
Writing is such a personal thing. It’s about what’s going on upstairs, in the author’s head, at any given time. I couldn’t write like Stephen King, because I don’t think like Stephen King (Who does?). I hear it in my head and I write it (okay, that is a little freaky–like Stephen King). And it’s revealing bits of yourself to the world, which is in itself a leap of faith that the world won’t think badly of you. It’s fun and scary and exhilarating to know that people are out there in the world, reading your words. But that means you have to write. Which reminds me–back to work!