Writers’ lives are never ordinary. Either they write about their own lives because they are different and interesting, or they write about other lives and events because they have the gift of observation and are so intensely curious that they pay close attention to details in a way that most do not. It’s the writer in me that is soaking up every detail of someone’s “characterization,” or colors, sounds, or timing, or the irony of two opposites colliding in a way that makes perfect sense in an absurd and ironic world. Then, we put these wordless observations into a story so that others can see and feel and be carried away by a world outside their own – or maybe just like their own. And reading – ha! We writers can never read a great turn of phrase or plot twist without becoming reverent about the brilliance of the writer who was able to come up with it, or as we say in the writing biz, create something out of nothing.
I got together with a couple of writer friends this morning. The three of us had agreed to mutually critique each other’s current projects. Grace, a professional writer, gave me her critique, which was spot on. As we were talking about the art of writing, she used one of my favorite phrases, “creating something out of nothing,” and I will give her credit, except I need to note that I’ve been saying the same phrase for years. The point is that both of us, separately, express the process of being creative in this way. It’s sort of magical, the process of turning experience and observation and complete flights of imagination into story. This is not to say it is not hard work.
Back to this morning’s critique session. What I got from Jack, also a professional writer, was spot on as well. However, what he said was something no writer, after working hard to put together a story of 8,483 words, wants to hear: It is not done yet. And worse: Your life is a saga, Di, you need to turn this short story into — Oh, c’mon, Jack, you’re not going to tell me to turn this into a novel. No, not a novel, a memoir. Grace nodded. Well…damn.
Yes, my life has been somewhat extreme, as far as making my way through incidents that don’t happen to most people. As the saying goes, wish your enemy an interesting life… In fact, the loss of my two daughters to a religious hijacking – which was published as a hardback novel (The Protest) in 2003 – I had looked forward to releasing in e-book format in November 2014. But as it turns out, I need to apologize to those of you looking forward to its release in the near future. The story that my friends recently read and critiqued is better suited to be the first e-book release, with The Protest to follow shortly afterward as a prequel. That being the case, it looks like no e-book will be released in November of 2014 after all. Hell and damnation.
So once again, I am going to plunge head-long into creating magic with this piece that seems worthy of growing into a memoir.* I am going to do what’s extremely difficult for me, not simply writing about the hardest and happiest parts of my life, which is demanding enough, but making myself completely vulnerable by intricately, emotionally exploring larger-than-life incidents. I will hold my heart in my hand so you can watch it beating and wonder how I can still be alive to tell the story, and then you’ll wonder how I can be content with my life afterward.
*If you would like to be notified when my new e-book is ready to be released at a reduced rate or free, please leave your email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. And rest assured, I will never sell your email address and will only contact you to let you know of new release information.