Sunday, April 1, 2012

"I never did like this story."

Nope, this isn’t an April Fools' Day joke. Emotional Warfare was a difficult story for me to write. I think because it hit too close to home. They say to write what you know, but there’s something to be said for putting distance between your real life and the make believe world we create. Anyway, I shoved the story aside and went on to write two more novels, and found myself in a quandary. I could not, in good conscious let the story, the characters and the fours months I took to write the draft go to waste. It had potential and was worth the effort. So, I put my foot down with ME and wouldn’t write the next book or complete the two written since until I finished Emotional Warfare. I couldn’t do it. I sat spinning my wheels, not wanting to go backward and not allowing myself to move forward. Something had to give. More on that later.

This probably isn’t the smartest thing for an author to admit about their own work. After all, if I struggled with it then surely you won’t want to read it.

Not true. Really, you say. YES, I insist.

How many of you have seen the movie or read the book, Carrie by Stephen King? Did you like it? Have you watched the movie more than once? The answer is yes for me.

Well, King didn’t like Carrie White. He admits this in his book, On Writing, that he never did like her character. He might not have finished the story if his wife hadn’t found the crumbled up pages of the beginning in the trash and asked him to finish. He struggled to do so, but it is the novel that launched his career. He had published many other stories, and wrote several novels he liked better, but it was Carrie that gave him his big break. Because we liked the story even though he did not.

I can’t say my dislike for Emotional Warfare goes that deep. I wrote the first draft without any problem. I liked my characters, and there was merit to the story. But I was stuck. How many of you are asking yourselves, “Well, then why did you write it?” Because the characters were in my head and they had a story to tell. The first draft was easy because it was just the basics. It was when I had to get down to the details, when it got difficult that I wanted to walk away from the story.

With that said, here is some insight from King’s book, On Writing, that hit home for me:

I had written three other novels before CarrieRage, The Long Walk, and The Running Man were later published. Rage is the most troubling of them. The Long Walk may be the best of them. But none of them taught me the things I learned from Carrie White. The most important is that the writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s. Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position. King, Stephen (2000-10-03). On Writing (pp. 77-78). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

I can say with some confidence, and I think my editor would agree, that I was not shoveling shit when writing Emotional Warfare. But then it is all in ones perception of what is good and what is bad—just like any work of art, beauty is subjective.

I like to compare writing to doing a painting. You do the first draft, which is the outline or sketch of the picture then you go back over and over to layer in the color, filling in the lines. I struggled to do that with Emotional Warfare.

Here’s what finally gave: I submitted Emotional Warfare to my publisher, thinking if they put me under contract, I would then be on deadline and forced to finish it. And that’s exactly what happened. It is almost done; currently working through it’s final (I think) round of edits. It’s a good story, if I say so myself, and will be released July of this year. Here’s hoping that, like Stephen King’s Carrie, Emotional Warfare will ultimately be the book that gets me known—Okay, I’ll say it, that it makes me famous. Hey, it can’t hurt to dream. After all, being published was once only a dream and it came true. My fingers and toes are crossed. 

Emotional Warfare blurb:

When highly classified military parts go missing from Libby Aerospace Technologies, Dana Porter is sent to Wyoming to resolve the issues and negotiate a new contract with the United States Navy Defense contractor. The deeper Dana digs into the issues, the more dangerous the situation becomes and Dana suspects the parts are being illegally exported.

Despite General Manager, Nick White’s resentment of Dana’s presence, he can’t afford to lose the Navy contract and knows she is his best bet in making sure that doesn’t happen. When he accepted the promotion and moved to Wyoming over a year ago, it was to get away from Dana. Now, she’s scrutinizing every aspect of his business, finding inconsistencies he can’t explain and awakening old feelings he thought long gone.

Emotions are high as they battle to control the situation and their potent attraction. Together, they will race against time to stop the illegal exports and secure the deal, but with hearts and lives on the line, not everyone will walk away unscathed.