Sunday, September 16, 2012

Obstacles in Writing the Next Great American Novel

Everyone says they have the great American (insert your country) novel rummaging around in their mind. I've visited this subject before, but it's time to do it again. The most often heard of why they don't get busy and write is 1) time, 2) skill and 3)fear. I'll take them one at a time.
1) Time- Every person on Earth has twenty-four hours in a day, seven days a week, and three hundred sixty days in a year. It really depends on what YOU want to do with that time. Sure we work 40-50-80 hours a week. What about the rest of the time? Sleep, eat, care for yourself and others, But in between all of that isn't there a few moments when you veg out in front of the TV? Read or listen to something other than work related stuff? Just goof off? Sure, we all have those moments. We take vacations, and spend hours each month on commuter conveyances like, buses, trains and planes.  What do you do during those times? Could you possibly have a recorder or laptop to be writing? How about dialog or those quick comebacks somebody says to someone else? An outline? A character study sheet? Maybe ten lines of sentences about a scene? This is how EVERY author starts a story. They get a flash of lightning that starts the creative juices flowing into a story. Maybe it is something you saw on the news or an overheard conversation and the what-if motor starts churning in your brain.

2) Skill- Many people lack grammar an spelling skills to sit down and write two or three coherent sentences. The main point is skill is learned behavior. Nobody was born with the know-how to walk, or talk, or for that matter eat. I found this out recently when I lost quite a few of my learned behavior skills with a stroke and I am still fighting to relearn everything. You can learn proper grammar. You can learn how to spell. You can learn how to write fiction, nonfiction, article...everything. Don't have time to take a class? The library and bookstore have tons of materials or for that matter hire an editor..

Didn't you have to learn the skills to perform your current job? And that's something you have to do not what you want to do. Many new or wanna-be authors dream of staying home and do nothing but write...this is a pipe dream that many authors will never fulfill. I've been writing for over 30 years and up until recently kept my full-time job. Age does have some privileges. Your first story may never see publication...possibly even your first five, but keep at it.

In a section of my new manuscript, Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad, I write about bucket lists. Those things you plan to do when you get around to it, but rarely do because you think you're immortal? Then on your death bed or near death bed, "I wish I had of done _____." Do you really want to be one of those type people? Death is the absence of  learning, folks.

That brings us to the last topic I'm going to cover today, Fear. What if the book is lousy? What if it doesn't sell? What if _____? You fill in the blank. Be honest. My answer to this is simple...nothing ventured is nothing gained. Yes, nobody is perfect and you will be leaving yourself open to criticism for something you created. Something you put every ounce of creative juices in. Your baby. Your story. Even with one of the big 6 publishers behind you...it could fail. Remember your first job interview? Were you scared? Did you get the job? Did that one interview stop you from trying to find another job, no. You kept plugging away until you got one. The same is true with writing your novel or book. I have an author friend named Thomas Wilson. He is a hard working tire company manager and family man, so much so it took him ten years to write his first book. He self published it and then wrote another,and another,and another. He always says he knows his first novel will be his worst and he was right,but it's still selling. As he builds skills toward becoming a better author he is fulfilling his dream. Remember fear and faith cannot live in the same person or spirit. Take a chance and take the first step. Make a commitment.

Thomas Edison when building the first light bulb failed (in some people's eyes) two hundred times before he perfected the design. His response was he learned two hundred ways how not to make a light bulb. We'd be in the dark now if he let fear stand in his way.

So what's holding you back?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


2 comments:

S.P. Bowers said...

Yep, those are the basic obstacles. They seem to be the culprits for holding us back from a lot of things. I guess it comes down to are we willing to take the risk and sacrifice out rime, fear and intelligence to find out if we can make it.

J.L. Murphey said...

The cowardly lion in the "Wizard of Oz" said, "If I only had the nerve." The point is...you never will find it if you don't try. An ostrich will bury his head in the sand to hide leaving everything else exposed to dangers. It's about taking risks. being proactive in life, and making dreams come true. With that said I'll click my rubber red orthodic shoes three times and think there's no place like the best sellers list.