This week’s article looks at the above question. One that all writers have asked themselves at one time or another and, usually with a negative spin. But it can also be a positive question as well.
The Writer’s Quote
“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison
Since I came across the quote, I absolutely loved it! This is the quote that gives me the drive to write my stories. I feel that is the quote above all other quotes in regards to writers and their books. It’s so easy to jump on the bandwagon of whatever is hot for books these days. Vampire books are in? I’m writing one of those! Zombie Apocalypse is hot? I’m so there! Instead, look for something that you’ve always wanted to read that isn’t hot right now. Why? Because, one day it will be the “in thing” and you’re right there ready to lead the way.
In my trilogy, The Askinar Towers, I wanted to write something in the tradition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but, to make the journey more epic. Instead of the city of Oz, I have an endless number of worlds housed in four enormous towers. The fun part is that I am attempting to write in every genre that’s out there. Grant it, I didn’t succeed in the trilogy, but I did get through a handful of genres, even though the overall theme is Fantasy. Even though I limited myself to three books, there are possibilities for more books to be written featuring other characters and other worlds of the towers.
The Negative Spin
So in looking at the question, Did I write that? We all are familiar with the negative side of this. Usually people who partake in the annual NaNoWriMo competition can relate to this. Come December 1st, you look back over the thirty day manuscript and, most of the time, you cringe in horror thinking, “Did I really write this piece of drivel?”
A lot of times people don’t even want to go back and look over it fearing their worst nightmare has come true. But there is always something that is salvageable to any story, and yes, I mean ‘any story’. Remember, things grow better when you add manure. Just one sentence, or one background character, could be the very seed to take you to a new idea and new manuscript.
I went to a write-in during the November challenge and I told myself straight out that I most likely was not going to write anything productive. I would just go, converse with the other writers, and throw down some words just to keep my numbers going. When I looked back over what I had written, it was almost as if I was writing a completely different story. The characters were the same but their mannerisms and conversation were totally different from the scene before I went to the write-in.
From that particular manuscript, I cobbled together some characters and scenes to create the opening scenario for book 3, in which my two main characters, Sara and Erika, are put on trial for witchcraft. The rest of the story will be mulched up and used for a later storyline in the future.
The Positive Spin
Now the positive side to the question, “Did I write that?” comes when you’re editing a story and as you are reading you find yourself highly engrossed in it. As each page goes by you’re more and more intrigued by what is written and can’t wait to find out what happens. It is then you realize that you are the one who wrote it!
This has happened recently as I was going through the edits of book 2 of the trilogy called, Sibling Rivalry. One of my favorite scenarios is the setting in 1970s Washington D.C., during the Presidential Inauguration. Originally it was intended to be a parody of Charlie’s Angels but leaned more towards James Bond instead. As I completed each chapter I was anticipating the story’s progression, eager to see it through to the end. I then remember that this is my story, I wrote it! Such as great feeling and sense of accomplishment. Which brings me back to the quote by Toni Morrison,
“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
It’s not that I wanted to read a parody of James Bond or Charlie’s Angels but the overall story, in this scenario, of the characters coming together to solve a mystery, or two, and further develop themselves as people. This further aids my main characters in the third book, slated to be released later this year.
Regardless of how you view the question, “Did I write that?”, you have the potential to make the manuscript you wrote into something that everyone, including yourself, would want to read. Don’t give up on that one manuscript you swore would never again see the light of day. Dig it out, painfully thumb through it, and glean at least one decent seed to start maybe a whole new story.
Have you ever asked yourself that one question? If so, be it negative or positive, please share it with us in the comments below.
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