Sunday, September 14, 2014

When Walking Away Is Good For You And Good For Your Book

It's been a while since my last post.  In that time, a lot has happened that's taken me away from my work on the next two books.  As the firm and its clients have been happy with my work, my level of responsibility has increased and to the point where I'm now training other attorneys.  On the homefront, I've got a tweenager turning into a teenager with all of the usual accompanying hormone fed angst that's juxtaposed next to a two year old who is eerily independent.  Back to school has been get the idea.  Fortunately, I'm not in this alone.  My wife has been an absolute rockstar on too many things to list here.  And besides, this is supposed to be a writing blog, right?  I figure that, by now, you're wondering where this is all going.  Fair enough.

The past thirty day break from writing has been agonizing and rewarding at the same time.  The agony part is obvious: I've been incredibly anxious, feeling as though my writing dreams/goals were falling by the wayside; there's been an emptiness like I had lost a piece of my soul; and there are moments where I was afraid that I was going to lose every single reader or fan forever.  Any one of these would be terrrible nightmares for a writer to endure.  I was constantly worried about all three.

Yet over the course of those same thirty days, some really great things have occurred.  I've gotten to experience the joys and frustrations of potty training a toddler.  It's a uniquely parental experience to feel pride over your child's first time being able to do something that we take for granted every day. Not to mention the fact that you save ridiculous amounts of money by not buying diapers.  I also got a raise.  I didn't even have to bring up the subject, let along negotiate the amount.  I got to watch my oldest try to surf and do reasonably well for her first time out.  I would have missed out on all of these things had I shut myself in the office, banging away on the keyboard and to the exclusion of everything else going on in my life.  

To be sure, the past thirty days weren't all rosy.  Some are a bit too personal to share here, others just can't be mentioned due to attorney-client.  Regardless, the good and bad end up becoming valuable lessons and experiences that continue to help shape me as a writer.  Being able to recall what it felt like to watch either of my girls accomplish something new/difficult for the first time is invaluable to my writing and the stories that I'm crafting.  Likewise, working hard and being rewarded helps to reinforce my beliefs that hard work does pay off, if you're patient.  My point is that all of these events, good and bad, have added something to my life that is important to all writers: experience. 

When we're telling a story, we are writing about the lives of other people.  We are sharing with the reader the emotional highs and lows of our characters.  Most of us will never live the kind of lives of our characters, yet that doesn't mean that we can't pull from our own experiences to describe what our heroes and villains are feeling.  

Additionally, the time away from Savannah Keller and Sean Valdes has given me the opportunity to take a more objective look at the story.  Like any writing project, sometimes you have to walk away and come back and look at it with fresh eyes.  Now it's time for me to get back to work on my current projects and put the lessons from the past thirty days to good use. 

How do your life experiences shape your stories and characters?

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