Last night, I found myself staring at the words on the screen for the hundredth time wondering how on earth I could connect the “new” first four chapters I’d just written (the fifth attempt) to the old content already completed last July – and make it look seamless, much like splicing two pieces of music together without making it seem too obvious. Forget that those first four chapters leave out a key ingredient – a homemade storybook my female main character’s late mother made for her that the hero is trying to recover. So I figured it wouldn’t be hard to delete every mention of the storybook and instead, focus on the return of a key figure in the hero’s life and you know, just use the drama of her return and call it a day.
And for the hundredth time, the same thing always happens: I can’t go on. Not when I just took away the one opportunity for the hero to reveal a certain character trait that, while admirable, threatens to become his undoing. It’s like removing one of the main foundations of a building yet expecting it to still stand strong. In this case, as it’s always been the last five times I’ve tried to do it, it can’t.
Sadly, the only reason I was doing it had nothing to do with the story. It was purely strategic so that when a prospective reader downloaded a 10% sample of the book on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, or kobo, they’d get something that was exciting, and thus kinda get the reader to “one-click” the book.
But every time, something in me recoils and refuses to go on rewriting the book with the new content being its foundation. I’ve been rewriting, revising and editing the same 14K words for the last five months.
Today, something told me to check Periscope, an app (IOS and Android) that streams live content from all over the world. It’s one of my sources for on-location research, allowing me to “explore the world in real-time through someone else’s eyes.” I follow a few people like Bec Boop who scopes from Great Britain, Ron Waxman from New York, Ally Bishop who talks about the craft of writing, and many more.
Tonight, while looking for interesting scopes from all over the world, I discovered Irina Ivic, a Serbian journalist who broadcasted earlier from @LoveinactionTV. She shared something I needed to hear ever since I started learning all about book promotions and email marketing, and as a result, lost sight of why I write.
“You need to do what you want to do from JOY…”
It was something she needed to hear herself when she found herself feeling overwhelmed, and thus wanted to share it with her viewers. And the moment she said it, I almost burst into tears because it felt like she was talking to me.
It’s messages like these that seem to find us when we least expect it, long after our souls beg for us to find our way again, back to the things that used to bring us so much happiness, and we refuse to listen. In my case, ever since I learned all about the importance of being an author-entrepreneur in addition to being a writer, I’ve lost sight of why I write. I’ve forgotten the JOY I used to experience whenever I wrote; that feeling that felt like it was Christmas every day.
I’m not saying that the business side of writing is evil or is bad; it’s just not something I need to immerse myself into right now, at least, not at the expense of the joy I used to experience whenever I write. When I don’t know what to write on a blog like this because I’m supposed to worry more about my BRAND as a writer/author, for someone like me who writes my stories to heal from past trauma that often gets triggered by the simplest things, that’s trouble.
When I take a story I’ve written with so much joy and then try to make it fit into a formula just because it has worked for others even though I am cringing the whole time I’m doing it, it’s a death knell for my story. And for the last five months, I’ve been trying to kill my own stories by trying to make them fit into a formula so it just might have a chance at being a success.
But then, what is success? Sure, success can be measured by numbers – Amazon rankings, number of copies sold, follower numbers, email list subscribers, all the things I’ve been going after for the last five months. But it’s also measured by other things that are impossible to measure or quantify into numbers – like feelings of happiness, contentment, even healing.
And then there’s that quote I heard Irina say today, and I’ll rephrase it so that it fits me:
“You need to [write] from JOY…”
Why do you write?