I recently read an article on Facebook written by Nicholas Sparks. On a totally incoherent note, this proves that all of my time is not wasted on social networking. But more importantly, it proves how interested I am in figuring out this whole publishing mystery.
If I were to sum up (& probably butcher) the message of his article, it would go something like this:
Know your characters completely. A solid writer should have their main character's inner and outer conflicts down before the story can begin. The plot should also be firmly "plotted" ahead of time. Just like a sound structure needs a firm foundation, so does a good story. Finally, if the story doesn't take off and keep your interest over a reasonable amount of time, then it's dead. For example, Sparks writes daily and usually takes about 5 months to get a story out.
One particular story, however, was taking much longer and he didn't have many of the conflicts worked out. He found himself stumped and asking others for plausible details . Sparks basically called this attempt a failure which he later learned from. He also said he was grateful that he experienced such a failure to pinpoint his mistakes and the basics of character development. He became more motivated and decided to make this error a strength.
I will not even begin to compare myself to Mr. Sparks. When he admitted that it takes him about 5 months to complete a detailed, riveting novel, I was impressed. But take note. He is a professional author who has published more than a dozen successful and top-selling works. I take closer to a year or so to write a novel, usually while holding down a full-time job. I'm also the mother of four children that I've committed myself to caring for. Besides, spending time with them is crucial to their emotional, spiritual and physical development. I also like them tremendously. Some may have the ability to put the family on the back burner, but I'd rather not jump on that wagon.
Now this doesn't mean my laundry never piles higher than normal while I'm writing or that I can't skip on mopping the kitchen floor for a few more days. I have no problem ignoring those weeds in the back yard either. But I have to wait until my prodigies are tucked away in bed most of the time. It is also impossible to write a good scene when two active boys or giggly teenagers are around.
So, I may not get that story in my head out as quickly and magnificently as Sparks. But if I've learned anything about this whole ordeal, it's this...keep on writing and keep the passion. Afterall, I have a good story to tell my audience too and the dream of being a published author is still alive and kicking!
Oh, and just one more note to think over for Mr. Sparks. I bet you could revive that story if you really wanted to. Afterall, it took the writer of The Help 61 attempts & a high number of rewrites to finally publish her book. Don't give up on that story Nick!