Friday, April 4, 2014

Writing: Do It Because You Love It

Sounds easy, right? Of course you write because you love it. Or at least, that’s how you started.

Do you still?

Are you writing the book of your heart every time? Or are you chasing trends because you’re in love with the idea of selling a book – any book – to the highest bidder?

It’s surprisingly easy to slip into the latter situation, usually without even realizing it. And more often than not, it doesn’t result in our best work nor pan out as we hope.

So how do you know if you love that book? I don’t mean do you love drafting or revising or the many stages of building a book – I mean, do you love the story? Does it resonate with you? Do you have to write it?

There was point when I was deep in the seemingly endless query trenches that I stopped and started several possible books over the course of a few months. At first, I thought they were great ideas. Why wouldn’t they be? I’d recently read books just like them! Of course they’d get snapped up. But I couldn’t finish them.

They didn’t feel right. They didn’t feel like mine.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out (for me) which ideas are worth pursuing. It’s the ones that grab hold of me and shake until words come out my ears. It’s the ones with characters who wake me up in the middle of the night demanding I listen to them.  Or whose voices are so persistent I can’t follow a real conversation and end up so startled a human is speaking to me, I spit water out on the floor of a fancy restaurant (fun fact: this actually happened the night the idea for MONSTROUS landed in my head. Yes, I am the smoothest person you know.)

For me, it's the ones that I can't not write that I keep forging ahead on, even when drafting feels like pulling taffy from my brain, and revision like hacking my way through a jaguar-infested jungle. If I didn't love them, I'd never get through with all my gray matter and limbs intact.

How about you? Do you love the book you're writing now? How do you know?

MarcyKate Connolly writes middle grade and young adult fiction and becomes a superhero when sufficiently caffeinated. When earthbound, she blogs at her website and spends far too much time babbling on Twitter. Her debut upper MG fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, will be out from HarperCollins Children's Books in Winter 2015.

6 comments:

Suzanne Payne said...

I definitely have a crush on one of my characters. He's so wonderful...I wish I could marry him. ;)But being a fictional character and a ghost, that can't happen. He's so smart..I have no idea where he comes up with the things he says. I just listen and write them down. I feel very protective of this story. I don't want just anybody to have it. Do you feel that way with your 'book babies'?

JeffO said...

Interestingly, when I started my second MS, I didn't love it the way I did my first. My first was really something that came out of my heart. I thought the second one was more commercial, and more likely to land an agent, but I didn't love it in the same way--at first. Now, I love it. I love it in a slightly different way, but I do love it.

How do you know? I think you just do.

Damaria Senne said...

I have a lot of books I started and never finished because they fizzled out.. because I didn't love them. The story I'm telling now, I love it. I think I've been trying to tell this story for a very long time, but I would get distracted by other, more trendy stories. Now I've decided "this is it," and finally tell this story.

Damaria Senne said...

I have a lot of books I started and never finished because they fizzled out.. because I didn't love them. The story I'm telling now, I love it. I think I've been trying to tell this story for a very long time, but I would get distracted by other, more trendy stories. Now I've decided "this is it," and finally tell this story.

Lauren said...

I agree with what JeffO said about the second manuscript. It took me a bit too. Now, I'm hooked. Although, it was mostly because I missed the characters of my first book.

Nurieta said...

Without that love, that passion, it is impossible to write. That is my case, anyway.