Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blog-to-Blog: Selling YOURSELF on your book

So here are two more terrific blog posts to get you thinking about your writing (and of course, by "you," I also mean "me" ...)

They both basically deal with the same question, which might be distilled as follows: "What motivates you to write, and is it, at the end of the day, sellable or strictly personal?" I shall answer this question re my own writing in my characteristically tangential, long-winded fashion ... ;-)

As a child, I spent a lot of time writing because I loved to write. As a teen and young adult, I spent a lot of time thinking about becoming a writer for the fame and glory of it. It should be noted that I did not actually write very much amidst all this day-dreaming. When I hit 30, I started thinking more seriously about becoming a writer because of my original love of the craft, and within a year I was actually writing again.

Why did I do so much thinking and so little writing between the ages of about 14 and 30? Well, I could write an entire blog around this subject, but here's a quick word-blitzkrieg: boys, distraction, immaturity, insecurity, identity, education, career, friends, boys ... i.e., the standard rights of passage that one has to go through once they let go of their childhood I-can-be-anything-I-wanna-be-when-I-grow-up outlook. At some point, you realize that you have to take proactive steps to reclaim that sense of possibility if it's ever to be reclaimed.

So back to why I write. When I started to seriously write again, I somehow got it in my head that I was going to be the next Harper Lee. My writing style, however, told a different tale. Literary genius I am not. But I can tell a good story, that much I believe. And that's why I write - I love to give deliciously layered accounts of human interaction. I love the subtle and not so subtle ways in which people please and deceive one another. I don't write graphic sex scenes because I'm not interested in the physical act of sex, but all the manipulation, ruse, vulnerability, fear, lust, hope, etc. that's behind the act. I think these basic truths woven into a well-told story make for a very sellable book. (Mind you, I'm not saying I've "arrived" at this point yet, but this is my aspiration.)

Re the inspiration and personal connection aspect, one little "trick" I've found that not only enthuses me to write, but which hopefully translates successfully onto the page is what I like to call "writing your own extremes." In other words, think about something you would never do, or maybe something you almost did, but sure are glad you didn't follow through with. Reflect on a thought you had at your lowest or highest moment - one that you might be too ashamed to say out loud. And then have your characters live these things out.

As I write this, I'm not harboring any deep, dark secrets that I'm dying to get off my chest and onto a printed page. However, like everyone, I've experienced a whole slew of extreme emotions in my life, most of which faded away as soon as they arose. I must admit that I'm rather curious as to what might happen if someone were to ever act upon those emotions ... I'm hoping Lila, Rosemarie or Marcus will indulge my curiosity!


  1. A very interesting thought-writing my own extremes. It's funny because I was just thinking about writing a story about almost losing a child (not even losing a child-ALMOST losing a child) and I couldn't do it. My mind couldn't go there. At least not right now.

  2. Oh wow, now THAT would be powerful, but very emotional to write about, even in fiction. My "extremes" seem to be a lot more mundane, like imagining what would happen if I made a complete idiot out of myself at a party!

  3. Fascinating idea Cammie! I wish I were a more interesting person. I think I'd have to stretch more to find something interesting. And I couldn't write about almost losing a child either--it would be too painful. I wrote a story once where the mother left her child. I had to give it up because I just couldn't handle it.