Yesterday I simultaneously became very excited about my next book idea and crashed to the ground in regards to my current memoir. My cousin Jenna and I have been emailing about inspiration and staying motivated, and her recent blog entries go into some of the same ideas I've mentioned in the past week. My inspiration struck when she emailed me an innocent question, asking if for my next book I planned to write another memoir or try fiction.
I've had several ideas bouncing around in my head but so far, nothing's stuck. I keep reading about people who have so many ideas they can't decide which to write, or actually write several at the same time. This has not been my problem. Common advice says to write what you'd like to read - that's where your passion lies and what will keep you interested as you write. Nothing worse than writing something that bores you - how are other people supposed to get into a story that you despise?
I sent her a rambling answer, finally sputtering that I'd like to write fiction. I feel I have another memoir or two in me, but frankly, I'm getting a little bored with myself and I'd like a chance to write in third person. As we wrote back & forth, an idea struck - not a new idea, one of the many in my head - but a different spin that what I'd originally been thinking.
I'm not ready to share that idea just yet, so you'll have to forgive me my ambiguity.
Shortly after this exchange, I hopped over to Nathan Bransford's blog - one on my daily reading list. His latest post, Writing is Fundamental, talks about how our culture believes if something strange, exciting, or mildly different from the status quo happens in your life, you should write a book. People tell you that you should write a book. His comment that struck me:
"Sometimes, yes, crazy things happen to a writer and they write a book about it. But it's just not true that everyone has a book in them, or rather, that everyone can write the book that's in them. Writers write books -- not people with interesting stories to tell."
Then, one of the posters, Karen Duvall, had this to say:
"I think new writers need to get that first autobiographical book out of their system before they can go on to something serious. Plus, it's a powerful learning tool. "Write what you know." Well, what do any of us know better than our own lives? But we should also know better than to try to have it published."
Talk about a blow to the ego. I believe I am both a writer and someone with a story interesting enough for people to read. Sure, I'm also banking on the fact that I know a lot of people and I know (hint, hint) all of them would rush out & buy my book the moment it (fingers crossed) hits Amazon, but I've read other's writing, people who are also new at this & want to share their story, and I think I'm (dare I say it) better than some of them.
I tried not to let my disappointment get to me while I edited, rather I'm trying to use this as further motivation to write a kickass story. I think I can & there are people who've had their first success, meaning they've been published, with a memoir. So I'll keep plugging along.
Fortunately, my day ended back on top. I climbed into bed, ready to read a book, when details for my new story idea took over. I jumped up to scribble my thoughts in my journal, excited that my brain seems happy with this idea. Another piece of advice I keep reading is to clear your mind so the story can tell itself; that you're really just the person typing or writing, your characters are the ones with the story to tell. It seems like a bunch of BS to me - combined with the frustration that no ideas were fighting for priority, I didn't see how one would just flow from my fingers.
Well, as soon as I opened my book, the entire first scene played itself out in my mind. Character descriptions, scenery, ambience, all of it. This time I brought my journal into my room and kept it there in case this happened all night. I wrote maybe 500 words, and while I'm not ready to start a new Word document, I do feel I'm well on my way.