Maybe you’re like me.
My heart is in everything I do. Whether that means being a sibling, a son, a boyfriend. A baseball fan, a football fan, a lover of great theater and art. As a writer, my heart is in everything I write. If it’s not–or if I find out in mid-composition it’s not–I won’t write it.
Why continue something whose only end is sure doom?
Doom, in what sense? you may be asking. For a writer, doom is incompletion.
Writers write to be read. We work every passage so that everything we want to communicate is there on the page to read and comprehend. Most of the time, after I’ve finished drafting something new, it’s still not all there yet, what I wanted to say, and I need an editor or a compassionate reader to tell me so.
“I meant to say this!” I’ll scream. “That’s how it reads in my head.”
“Well,” says the reader, in a tone much softer than my own, “that’s not how it reads on the page.” And, as a writer, how it reads on the page is all that matters.
Why am I going on about this today? The answer, like most answers beyond the most elementary, is simple yet complicated.
Simple in that I have done the complicated part. I have written the novel that speaks my truth better than any memoir ever could. Through drafting, it now speaks louder and clearer than ever. My heart is in every page, paragraph, passage, punctuation mark.
Complicated in that, in order to reach readers in the way I want, I must convince someone who doesn’t know me and who–as yet–has no vested interest in my success to take a chance on me, to give themselves over to the possibility that this relative unknown might actually know what he’s doing.
My novel would sit firmly and happily on the shelf next to the books of Richard Paul Evans (his Christmas Box was an inspiration for a kid in the fifth grade) and Mitch Albom. His first best-seller, Tuesdays With Morrie, is a book I treasure, and Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven showed me that Heaven could be discussed without its having to be “religious”.
Also on this shelf would be the beautiful memoir When Breath Becomes Air. Or the newest of this crop, The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs. (That being said, my book’s genre has always been something of a quandary. Is it inspirational? I hope so. Is it the kind of book you’d want to read in your book club? I deeply believe so.)
No, I don’t know what it’s like to die as the previous two authors do. Because, thankfully, I haven’t had to experience that eventuality yet. But I’d like to think that being born with the cerebral palsy I have, living with it, and experiencing life in the “I want to do everything but know that some things are off-limits to me, and that’s just the way it is” way I must has given me a perspective with which readers will identify.
My main character, Terrence McDonald, must learn two lessons in the afterlife, those lessons gleaned from the life he’s just left. What are these lessons, and why is his learning them a must?
I hope you’re intrigued and want to find out more, whether you’re a reader, an agent, a publisher. I love what I do. My heart is in it fully. And I’d love to find a team of people who want to be in it with me!
And, dear reader, know that such a team begins and ends with you. Without you, writers would just be weirdos who wander the streets aimlessly with something to say and no one to hear them.