Friday, November 12, 2010

Why we write

Latley, I have been stuck under a deadline of the worst kind. I'm working on my first hardcover mystery novel, and it's hard. Hecka hard. First off the words "break out book" have been thrown around, which is exciting... and totally terrifying. It's also my first mystery that will not be shelved in romance, which means as I'm writing it I'm constantly worried that I'm putting too much romance in... wait, now it has not enough... hold on, is that too much again? Yeah, I'm second guessing all over the place. And this is also the first book for a new publisher, and I really, really want to make a good first impression. All of this adds to pressure which adds to me staring at a blank screen with the words "looming deadline" running through my head. Not the best way to pump out a stellar book.

A good friend of mine, who is also a writer on a deadline that's been messing with her muse as well, recently sent me a link to a blog post called "Comfort Reading". I almost never send people off this blog with links to other blogs, but this post really spoke to me. Suddenly my writing wasn’t about making a good impression or the percentage of romance vs. mystery. It was about the readers. Who am I writing for? Why? What do I want to say to them?

The post is by Toni McGee Causey and was originally printed on the Murder She Writes blog. You can (and I highly suggest!) read the entire thing here:

Here's an excerpt of my favorite part:

"Somewhere, there is a man, sitting in a hospital room. His wife has cancer, and he’s been there, every day, before and after work. Except now, he can be there full-time, since he’s lost his job. He’s spent days seeking help, trying to find a way to keep her there, to make sure she has the care she needs, when all of his benefits are gone. He’s filled out more paperwork in this one week than he’s done in a lifetime, and only barely understands half of what they’ve told him, if that.

"He’ll try to get a second mortgage for the house. Sell off the second car, trade his in for something cheaper. The savings–such as it is, there’s not much with two kids–is gone. The retirement will go next, and that might last a month, at this rate. They don’t qualify yet for any sort of Medicare or help. His sister is at his house, boxing up stuff to sell. Doing it while the kids are at school, so they don’t see."

"He’ll slump down in the God-awful chair they have in the room, punching a pillow that one of the orderlies found for him, and he’ll crack open that favorite paperback he grabbed on his way out the house this morning. For a little while, he gets to be a hero. He gets to fight crime or solve problems, save the world or save the girl. For a little while, he gets to have hope.

"Write a story for him."

~Trigger Happy Halliday


Robin Kaye said...

What a beautiful blog--Toni's too. She's one of my favorite people and so she's great at what she does. She gives people a place to escape. You will too. Keep up the good work!

Christie Craig said...

Hi Gemma,

Wow, great blog. I know where you are at, too. Writing for two new publishers, under tight deadlines has made me a little crazy, too. Thanks for this post, girl.

I love Toni, too.


Tori Lennox said...

I'm another fan of Toni and that's a fab blog post.

Toni McGee Causey said...

Gemma, thank you -- I just now saw this (not sure how I missed it as I always read KF!)

I very much appreciate the sweet comments; you all rock.