Writing Blind

Present word count of WIP:  56,872

Writing, for me, is an act of faith.

I believe that when I face an empty Word document on my computer screen (or a blank piece of paper)…and set my fingers to the keyboard (or take pen in hand), words and scenes will begin to flow into my mind and out of my hands to create a story.

If I’m writing a novel, all I usually start with is a character and a situation. I am not an outliner. And this has always struck me as odd, since I organize and make lists for everything else in my life. When it comes to creative writing, however, I close my eyes and leap.

Perhaps it stems from my beginnings with poetry. Verse is always born from inspiration. Yes, at times I’ll sit down with the subject in mind, but that is all. I wait patiently and let phrases come and go then grasp at those that build a vision of sorts. A vision that feels true. And as it rises in construction, I’ll knock a wall out here, add a window there, take off a whole wing if it detracts from the vision’s elegance. And how do I know if it adds or detracts? By the feeling I get as I read the words, say the words. It’s a heavy, full feeling…a feeling not unlike what I’m experiencing right now. Closer to what I feel in spiritual moments than when I am enthralled with a work of art. It’s a humbling sensation.

And when I write stories, it’s much the same. I take the first step or two and then count on a higher power to carry me through. Always, so far, I have been pleasantly surprised at plot points that seemed to have arisen out of nowhere.

In The Reckoning I had not planned to bring Peter back to Baghdad to find Theresa imprisoned in her cell. But as I introduced the element of hidden audio and video devices in her cell, it suddenly came to me how powerful it would be to have him witness for himself her growing affection for Tariq. That is just one instance. There were countless other examples in that book.

In the forthcoming The Boy in the Pool my random selection of a particular book for my main character to read in an early scene turned out to provide some major plot developments as I felt inspired to research the book’s title. What I discovered was too good to be mere coincidence.

And in my current work in progress, it’s happening again. Symbols recurring seemingly by chance. Myths foreshadowing the course of the story. Some I’ve noticed myself, while others have been pointed out to me by those in my writing group.

I don’t know why I should be surprised. After all, writing blind is merely putting your work of creation in the hands of the Creator. I’m not discounting the need for craft, technique, and talent. I’m simply saying that without faith those are insufficient to produce my best work. My truest work requires a connection with the source of truth.

And the longer I write blind, the truer I believe my work will become.

Do Free PDFs Work?

Present word count of WIP:  43,781

I’m almost over my cold and hoping my chapped nose (I knew I was blowing my nose too much!) will have recovered by Sunday. Oh, and if anyone out there can tell me why, all of a sudden, I lost all my Google Followers, I would appreciate it greatly. I don’t think it was because they were afraid I was contagious. Seriously, what’s up with Google (besides that whole privacy issue)?

In the meantime, here’s Seth Godin’s next piece of Advice for Authors:

14. Consider the free PDF alternative. Some have gotten millions of downloads. No hassles, no time wasted, no trying to make a living on it. All the joy, in other words, without debating whether you should quit your day job (you shouldn’t!)

I don’t know about you, but offering free PDFs of my stories would be problematic for me. While I got on the Kindle bandwagon early, offering THE RECKONING on Kindle shortly after it came out as a paperback on Amazon, I didn’t do the actual formatting. I paid the people at BookSurge (now CreateSpace) to do it for me. As a result, I don’t have a PDF version of the final manuscript, formatted for print with all the chapter headings and fancy images.

If any of you know how I might get hold of such a PDF version, I might be interested. But then, you come to the question of the value of your work. How many readers value that which they get for free?

Personally, I’ve purchased some 200-300 books on my Kindle and I’m having a tough enough time getting them read, let alone any free books I may come across. Which books do you imagine I’m going to value more and read first? You got it. The ones that cost me money.

In my opinion, money earned from a book is a lot more meaningful, in terms of gauging your fan base, than the number of downloads. While the idea of no hassles and no time wasted is appealing, it’s not very realistic. True professional authors have to work hard to make a living at what they do…but the reason they continue to do it is because they love the writing.

I stopped myself today in the middle of writing a scene that ended up taking me in a whole new direction and thought, “This is just too fun! I am so glad I can do this!”

Sometimes, Godin thinks too much about the money/marketing end and not enough about the joy of writing.