A year and a half ago, I started something that would change my writing style and my life. It seemed simple enough: write 50,000 words in one month. All I was supposed to do was sit down and write. I wasn’t supposed to check anything or worry about it. The words were what was important. So that’s what I did.
I sat at my computer and started a story. I had no idea what was happening in it or where it was going, but after my first writing session I was hooked.
The thing was that I allowed myself to write whatever was inside me. I didn’t fight it. I didn’t try to construct it. It simply came out.
For years, I had tried to write a novel (one that I still plan to do one day), but I always got stuck on the first chapter. I would write it over and over until I thought that it was perfect. The problem was that I was never completely happy with it. So I’d go back over it. And, today, all I have of that story is that one chapter.
Now I let things take their course. And I’ve completed a 300,000 word book in the process.
Okay, on to the part I’ve struggled with.
I have to admit that I’ve been a bit suprised by the book that I wrote. It’s a story about the apocalypse and gets into some very deep and disturbing issues. They were obviously thoughts buried somewhere in my mind, but I couldn’t believe them when they came out onto the page. I’ve given my story to a few friends to read and they think the same thing. Everytime I meet them after they’ve read a bit more of it, their eyes (and mouths for that matter) say, “You wrote this?”
Yes, I wrote about death; about torture; about blood.
It’s horrible when I think about it. And it’s something that I’ve had trouble with. I didn’t want to be known as someone who wrote those things because there’s a certain stereotype that comes with writing them. People think that you’re strange or disturbed. They worry about you. And worry about being around you. I also worried what my mother (who reads everything I write) would think.
To look at me, you wouldn’t think that I’d be in to all of the dark themes I’ve written about. I don’t dress the part. If anything, I might look like I’m into adventure stories or maybe not even into writing at all. My clothes are pretty plain (except for my green Converse shoes). And my head is shaved. I usually grow some stubble on my face because I hate to shave. But that’s it. Overall, I look pretty basic.
Surprisingly, what came out of me wasn’t. It was dark. It was scary. It was upsetting.
At the end of the day though, this is who I am and it’s what I wrote. My true friends know it and accept it. Even my mother loves my story and is helping me with each draft.
I also take heart with the fact that my story focuses a lot on the human condition – which I think, overall, is positive. So there are a lot of good messages in it. There are, likewise, a lot of philosohical questions and sociological observations which allow the reader to think about their own lives and try to improve upon them.
Though it is still somewhat of a struggle.
I’ve also had difficulty admitting to the fact that I’ve written commercial fiction. It’s something that I still don’t feel 100% comfortable about admitting. I think this is because, as a Canadian, I’ve been taught to strive to be a “literary” author. Since a young age I’ve been told to read Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Robertson Davies, Pierre Berton and many of the other fantastic authors Canada has to offer. But, at the end of the day, amongst those names there aren’t any Canadian Stephen Kings or Dean Koontzes. We don’t really have any Michael Crichtons, John Grishams, Ken Folletts or J.K. Rowlings, either. Actually, I know that isn’t really true. We have some authors who write these types of pop-fiction books, but they don’t seem to get the same recognition or praise as the other ones I had mentioned.
So, yes, this is another thing that I’ve had to contend with.
Of course, regardless of all of that, I am able to say that I’m happy with what I’ve written. Actually, more than that, I love it! I think it’s such an exciting story. It was definitely one that kept me entertained and wanting to keep writing it (which is why I wrote so much more than the first chapter).
And I suppose that that’s what is most important.