Here are my TOP TEN REASONS for writing The Clouds Roll Away.
Reason #6: Unreasonable Acts
Sometimes a story flows onto the page so smoothly a writer feels like they’re receiving dictation, straight from heaven.
The opposite also happens.
The hell of a writer’s own making, this version begins with a lot of pounding on the keyboard, hitting Erase, pounding some more, and then, some eight hours later, walking away from the computer vowing to never-ever-ever write another word.
The following day (because all working writers have self-inflicted amnesia), the process begins all over again. Only now it’s even more horrible. Like some trip to the dentist where every tooth gets a root canal.
I’ve had two novels give me serious trouble, beginning on Page One all the way to The End. It was as if the stories were simultaneously daring me and trying to assassinate me.
Although written years apart, these two books bear some similarities.
Most crucially, they’re both adored by readers.
The Clouds Roll Away, for instance, was named by Booklist a Top Ten read of the year. But writing that book made me realize why Hemingway put that bullet into his head. Not. Joking. When I finally turned in the manuscript, the editor sent back some suggestions. Five pages of “suggestions.” Single-spaced. Here, let share with you one exact sentence: “I don’t like anything about this book.”
She gave me three weeks to fix it.
And I did.
Because the story was begging me to tell it.
My first YA Raleigh Harmony mystery, Stone and Spark, hit me with another gruesome writing experience. I nearly quit but for two things: a nurturing editor and, like Clouds, a story that pulled me to the computer.
My second son “died” while being born. Twice, in fact. Thirteen years later, his neck still carries the red marks let by the umbilical cord that tried to strangle him. That kid fought his way to get here, and came out howling.
Now he’s got the spunk of ten warriors. If you tell him something can’t done, it’ll get done—his way. I love that about him. I admire his spirit.
We’re human. We always hope things will go easily. But they rarely do. I’m even certain thing aren’t supposed to be easy. Especially the most important things.
If right now you feel like giving up—abandoning some project, a business, a book, a person, a new workout, a new idea—don’t.
And yes, I do realize how unreasonable it all is.
That’s the point.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world,” wrote George Bernard Shaw. “The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”