A Few Moments of Your Time

by Jason Sitzes

 

I'm going to offer to this site a few insights into the writing life.  And I'm excited about sharing them with you.

On occasion we'll talk to other authors. For example, next time I'll share a very recent conversation over coffee with a NYT bestselling author (and friend) who lives in my city and happened upon a book titled Dewey - and it changed his life. In June, you'll get exclusive updates from the Writers Retreat Workshop, featuring top agents and authors sharing with hungry budding and published writers. And sometimes we'll kick back by the fire and talk shop; look at craft and mechanics intensely, under a microscope.

Basically, we'll walk this forested path together finding inspiration and information around every corner. For our first time together, I'm sending a condensed version of an article that appeared in the WRW 2008 Family Newsletter.  I've changed it a bit. I hope it inspires you to find your inspiration.


Pushing Through The Rainbow

Something happened last spring, finally.  Driving through the Pacific Northwest, I literally drove through a rainbow.  It loomed in the distance on one of those rainy NW spring evenings as the sun dropped below the horizon; then the end of the rainbow was just to my right, literally in the middle of a small river; then it was in the middle of the road; finally disappearing for a moment as I drove through and the lucent colors reappeared just behind and to the left. 

Maybe it was that. Maybe it was the arrival of spring that changed everything; a season that in this part of the world turns browns to green, and outside becomes where everyone lives. Maybe it was the crack of baseball bats heard at ballparks nationwide and the thunder of thoroughbred horses  echoing throughout Kentucky.

Certainly it was beautiful women again walking their dogs and partners through the streets of Louisville and on newly warm nights we found ourselves sitting with friends having a late-night conversation at an outdoor bar with bourbon in hand when we heard last call and realized 3:45am arrived without warning even though we all swore we'd never do that again.

What inspires your work?

Make a list. Does love set your words into motion, or the promise of the next lover, or the relief of being unburdened by love? Does music put your mind at ease, the activity of children, the beauty of language and story? Are solitary walks your elixir?

It's no secret the most common 'rule' of writing is to write every day with or without inspiration. Fact is, though, when life pushes from all sides it's damn complicated to push through words 35,000 through 67,000 when your novel is supposed to be at or near 90,000.

Half the battle to publication is finishing the first novel.  Then, the rest of the battle for a career is to finish faster and better than before.  Inspiration more often should be sought than waited upon.

Poet Robert Frost wrote that the best way out is always through. The more you delay a project the more burdensome it becomes. The publishing deadline looms and you're forced, eventually, to write out of necessity and not inspiration. Nothing wrong with this except the joy of the art is lost in the burden of the job.

How do you push through that middle?  What characters are floundering in your novel without a purpose?

Go back to the beginning and build more life (story) into those characters so by the middle they are in the midst of their own tumultuous journey that also, somehow, impacts the hero's journey.

Give your antagonist equal challenges. Layer your story with a subplot that is so unexpected the beginning of it blows your mind when it fits into the story. 

For these aspects of the novel, get inspired.  Take two hours out of your day for a walk, a private concert with your favorite tunes, or people-watch, wondering how your life would change if you walked up and said, "What are your dreams?" to a complete and captivating stranger.  Whatever it takes. 

Spring passed by, summer came, leaves changed, snow fell and anything is possible when you unburden yourself.

copyright 2009 Jason Sitzes

 

 

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