Monday, June 3, 2013
I recently answered some interview questions for a blog I'll be a guest on in July, highlighting Unraveled. One of the questions was what my top three pieces of advice to writers would be. One of my points is for writers to dig deep to make their writing as authentic as they can, so that it might have the biggest impact possible for the reader.I know I've said it several times on this blog so forgive my redundance, but it's my opinion that the first job of fiction is to entertain. That said, I don't have the time or the desire to read what I term "fluff" fiction, or fiction that doesn't deliver something of substance. By fluff, I mean cotton candy, which has absolutely no substance. It's sickly sweet, dissolves with hardly any satisfaction, and typically upsets the stomach. If I'm going to give up precious hours of sleep time, because that's when I read for pleasure, and invest time in a novel, I want it to strike a chord in me, to cause me to reflect on something relative in my own life.
My next novel, The Color of Sorrow Isn't Blue, due out July 1, is the story of a woman's emotional response to losing a child. In writing this story I drew from my own experience in losing my son seven years ago, and believe me, the well of emotion continues to be deep and raw. But that doesn't mean I believe our novels should be thinly veiled autobiographies. I don't. At all. There's no rule against it, it's just my preference as a writer and a reader. (There are those who write memoirs in novel form, and that's a whole different subject.) To that end, this woman's story is not my story. She responds in a way completely different to how I responded. She doesn't lose her daughter in the same sense that I lost my son -- but loss is loss, gone is gone. And I drew on my experience and emotions like never before. Trust me when I say this was a painful story to write, and there were many days I didn't want to go anywhere near it. That was often hard to overcome. But was it worth it? I certainly hope so. One thing I can say unequivocally is that this is my best writing yet.
When it comes to your own emotional well, do you draw freely or would you rather stay as far away as you can from it? How does that decision affect your writing and the stories you tell?