Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing

Hey, all, not much on my mind today, still recovering from the whirlwind week of traveling. Thanks to Bonnee Crawford for hosting me on Thursday or Friday last week; my guest post–Why I Write–is still there for your viewing pleasure.

It’s funny how ideas spawn ideas. When I first started head-drafting my guest post for Bonnee, I saw it going in a different direction than what Bonnee asked. I wasn’t sure I could really answer her question. Why do I write? Who knows? But when I started going from ‘head draft’ to ‘virtual paper draft’ I found myself veering away from what I thought I was going to write and ending up more or less answering the question. I also left myself with a potential follow-up post, which this isn’t, not exactly.

After finishing the post for Bonnee and basking in the glow of my First Guest Post Ever! I found myself reading Catching Fire, which is book 2 in The Hunger Games trilogy. I enjoyed The Hunger Games quite a bit back when I read it, but knew better than to devour all three books in too short a time period. Time got away from me, and here I was, more than a year later, finally getting back to it. During a point early in the book I found myself reading a passage and thinking, “Yes! Go there! That’s what I want to see!” I could see the book developing in a particular way, and I really wanted it to happen. But Suzanne Collins did not ‘go there.’ She took the book in a different direction, one that was right for her. I’m not going to get into any review of the book. I enjoyed it well enough, though I definitely liked book 1 better.

But between reading Catching Fire, working on Bonnee’s post, and some things I had seen in Absolute Write’s Query Letter Hell section over the last couple of months, I had one of those “Ah ha!” moments, the golden moment where something suddenly becomes crystal clear to me. You ever see anyone say, “Write the story you want to read”? Yeah, it’s one of those pieces of writing advice that’s thrown around with great frequency, and it’s one of the pieces of advice that has just never clicked into place for me. Until that moment.

This is not to say I haven’t been following this advice over the last few years I’ve been seriously writing, but it came through in that moment with a clarity that it hadn’t before. That’s all I’m going to say on the topic for right now. I’m going to have to busy myself organizing my thoughts coherently enough to follow up on this on Friday, but that’s my aim. In the meantime, have a pleasant week!

7 Responses

  1. Yeah. When I wrote my first book just to see if I could write a full-length novel, I wrote the kind of book I would want to read. Fortunately my publisher seemed to like that kind of book, too. lol

  2. Toni Morrison once said “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” I believe that wholeheartedly and practice it, as well. As for catching Fire, I didn't like it nearly as much as The Huger Games, and I HATED Mockingjay. But I guess she told the story she wanted to. Too bad it wasn't what I wanted, but still, I read the damn book! Gonna hop on over to Bonnee's now!

  3. If we write what we want to read, we should love writing it (hopefully) and that passion will come through to the reader. But having said that, it clearly didn't work for everyone in the case of Catching Fire! Hmm, I look forward to reading your thoughts on Friday!

  4. You know, I've never actually kept that piece of advice in mind when I've written. Now that I think about it, I probably should… Perhaps I'll see myself improve somewhat 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your stay in Australia, Jeff! Rest up 🙂

  5. Hah! I was going to bring up the Toni Morrison quote too! I've always thought that although the stories the way I would want to read them aren't always satisfactory to the powers that be. I loved the Hunger Games trilogy and Book 1 was my favorite of the three.

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