Why I Write

In the middle (I almost wrote muddle and that would work also.) of designing a marketing plan for my new novel, I’ve been consumed with lists of things to do to promote the work, to get it in front of readers. Note that I did not say to sell the book. It would be nice to recoup the expenses of self publishing, but deep down and high up, my goal is for the book to arrive in the hands of people who will read it.

Edward Abbey, outspoken guy that he was, writes in Postcards from Ed, that he “expect[s] the novelist to aspire to improve the world” (145). That’s a big expectation. He has challenged me to write from belief rather than ambition. Providence is about people caught up in the potential effects of climate change. The previous novel, Accidental Child, also grew from a what-if that had me musing about the disasters we face if we don’t curb our destructive use of natural resources.

People ask me how the book is selling, and they are puzzled when I say that I don’t know. Sales are only one indication of who might read the book and care about the characters about their lives and our future. Maybe pass it on to another reader. In the current political climate, I see little attention to issues that are drowning in the hubris and rancor that fill the news outlets. We still have racism, climate abuse, poverty, war and illness. I vote for a more reasoned, balanced awareness of what we should be concerned about. I write to remind myself, and you, that the world is complex, the people are sad, and the future needs our attention.

Read for Equality

Wright, Richard. Black Boy (American Hunger).

Ready to Rewrite

Most people call this season spring; for me it’s critique season. The beta readers for Providence (sequel to Accidental Child) are hard at work and I’m working hard at being patient. I know I’ll have plenty to do on the rewrite, but my generous readers will guide me. Obviously, the final decisions are mine and the book will live or die on my watch.

Given nine readers, I had to devise a way to collate their observations and advice. I’m not interested in shuffling paper or computer files repeatedly and maybe losing some important remark in the process. So I’ve adapted a story board idea to handle this input.

I have a large piece of foam board, hanging on the closet door in my office by a string and a wreath hanger. Across the top horizontal edge I’ve put sticky labels with the names of the major characters. I’m a character-driven writer for fiction, so this is my approach. Another writer might prefer categories like setting, action, point of view or dialog–whatever seems most useful.

Down the left hand vertically, I’ll list the chapters. As I come across suggestions from my readers, I’ll post a sticky note at the intersection of the character and the chapter in question. Stickies can be stacked, so I think I’ll have enough room, but I might need a second board to accommodate all thirty-four chapters. I’ll decide that when I’ve gone through the comments and see just where I need to concentrate my rewriting energy.

Not only does this plan help me stay on track, but also it’s a visual reminder that I have this work to do, daily if I’m any good. Originally, I had imagined a spring release for this novel, but reality suggests fall. I do have a busy life outside of Providence, and it’s best to take the time I need to write a good book. I’ve spoken briefly to an editor and once I’ve done the rewrite, I’ll ask her to look at it. Then on to the book design and publication. It’s a huge project to write and self-publish a novel, and there’s no point in doing a sloppy job. So, I’m ready to rewrite. Wish me luck–nah! Luck has less to do with writing than determination. And I am determined.