A few weeks ago I had a conversation with Oris George, the back roads of yesterday guy who writes about mules and such stuff as comes about on those back roads where real folks rarely wonder. He mentioned something I’d written and said, “It’s really good. You ought to sell that.”
I went off half-cocked and wrote a query letter to a popular editor/publisher and ended up with a contract to… uh… sell that. What I’d actually written was little more than a title and a few paragraphs of plot, which could go many directions, but I chose to send it down the road of mystery/suspense where I rarely ever go. Not that there’s anything wrong with sitting on the edge of your chair turning pages one after another to get to the end of the book and find out if your hero survives, I just never wrote that stuff before.
So, sitting on my desk, in front of my face on any given morning is an acceptance of a story genre I’ve never written before. Thus far, I’ve gotten about 4500 words and it’s due in a few months, along with several other projects, jobs, and items of work type nature… In fact, the book is due on or about the same date as my third grandchild.
But that reference has nothing what-so-ever to do with the book, just a general concept of I’d better hurry, because I don’t want a looming deadline arriving with a baby due any minute. Babies don’t wait, and looming deadlines must be met.
And yet, here I sit stumbling over the words of the suspenseful novel, waiting inspiration beyond – it was a dark and gloomy night. It’s rather over used, droll, and… Sorry Ava, but… Rather Ava Betz-ish. It has been, often, one of her favorite comments when we start writing those suspenseful pieces in writer’s group, because she knows I’m going to dream up a thunderstorm. “The thunder rolls…” is one of my favorite starting lines for just about anything, because once I get the thunder rolling out of my way, I can get down to writing something of value.
It’s my white page, black-out. You know, those words that settle onto the page first, to remove the fear of white page addiction, which has been known to cause writer’s block in the fairest of writers. Once we’re addicted to the white page, we lack the sensibility to add words and get beyond our addiction. It’s a disease that has stumped many writer’s next books and prevented many Wurlitzer Prize winners from accomplishing their goals.
The psychosis of writing is much the same as the psychotic mania that spurs my hero into action in the thriller I’m currently writing. The desire to accomplish that which is irregular or unusual, while making a statement for humanity drives a strong pulse to continue. Where does the need to stop insanity come from in a sane world? Isn’t it normal to have moments of ridiculous tumultuous experience and a sense of crisis in each day of living?
So, what is so different from putting those thoughts and feelings into a book and calling it suspense and mystery? The doom and gloom of daily living is surely enough suspense to carry us through a thriller crime story filled to the brim with mayhem and chaos, right?
And yet… In a very literary sense, the book must go on.
After an intense conversation with my daughter (who has an incredible sense of knowledge about profiling) I found my weakness in writing to be at least half as great as the profile required to create a psychotic killer in my book. With that knowledge and at least five Sydney Sheldon’s sitting on the shelf, I’ve determined that I can do this. I will write this book, fulfill this contract and beat down the demons that keep saying that I can’t write this book. I can, I will and they can’t stop me!