Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My "One Thing"

Welcome to my new blog. I hope you'll stay a while.

Movie goers may recognize my City Slickers reference to the "one thing." You know, the "one thing" in your life which brings you the ultimate fulfillment. For years I wondered what my "one thing" might be. I didn't know.
Then it happened--no small thanks to Oprah.
My friend...writing.
Oh, we’d been first acquaintances and then casual friends for decades. At the age of 7 or 8 my mother gave me a world of possibility—otherwise known as a diary with a key lock. Back then I was na├»ve enough to believe that a key lock would be sufficient to keep my mother from being nosy. So, I unleashed my soul onto the pages of my diary, each day journaling the good the bad and the ugly--and sadly there was lots of ugly.
My diary was a friend in which I could share all of my deepest dreams and desires.
Like most kids at that age, I always believed life was hard (although in my case it was true to some extent, another story for another day), so whenever I endured some particular hardship, I would convey my thoughts in my diary. It was pretty freaking depressing. And living was depressing enough. So, I made a change. Instead of disclosing the full truth, I started writing happy endings. If someone read those diaries today, they would think I had a childhood filled with happy endings. And thus I began to develop my almost innate ability to stretch the truth just slightly beyond the bounds of reality--my formal introduction to fiction. 
To this day, some degree of the truth underlies every single story that I tell which helps breathe life into my characters and is probably a reason why my readers find the characters so real and relatable. 
Ahhhh...writing. A true friend that indulged my lies and supported my dreams, even when I was full of crap. 
Then we fell in love. 
Fast forward three decades and dozens of journals later.
After a heavy dose of Oprah, those stories in my diaries and journals began to haunt me. Why? Because I would re-read my writings months, sometimes years later, and would sometimes laugh myself to tears when I should have been crying buckets at the ridiculous relationships I fell in and out of. Part of me wanted to bury the journals six feet under. Another part of me, the insane part, thought the journals would make the basis of a great story.
So I wrote my very first novel over a four-month period in late 2008. No training. Didn't read a single instructive book. I just puked words all over the pages. Day and night, night and day, I slaved over the story--only the funny thing was, it NEVER FELT LIKE WORK. Never once. At least not until I began editing.
We spent every waking moment together and got to know each other intimately. Admittedly, I shared the most but I got a lot in return--what could be better than the sense of finally finding myself. When I finally emptied my soul into each and every page, I realized nothing had ever brought me more pleasure. Nothing had ever given me more fulfillment and satisfaction. Nothing else had ever made me feel as if I had found my life’s purpose.
Then it dawned on me, I’d met my soul mate.
I'd found my “one thing.”
I suppose all things happen in the time their due course. If we'd fallen in love earlier in my life, I'm not certain I'd have the same appreciation for the craft. And I certainly wouldn't have lived long enough to tell the stories with the wit and wisdom I can share today. Nor could I develop characters as rich as the ones I portray in my novels. So while I wish I had found my calling sooner, sometimes I believe I found it in perfect time.
Anyway, I hope you will enjoy my new blog. I have two other blogs, but this will be the first in which I explore the craft of writing, in addition to my new J.J. McCall series and all the work/fun that has (and will go into) developing it. I plan to post once or twice a week when I have something of use to talk about.
I’m not certain this blog will contain any particularly groundbreaking nuggets of wisdom—at least not for fellow journeyman. Perhaps for very new authors, it may. I plan to share my journey and writing tips that I've learned along the way. My hope is that the audience finds some consolation in the fact that I, even as a published author (in my other writing world), face many of the same challenges as every other writer when crafting stories. I’m learning as I go along—and maybe, through the open exchange of ideas, we can learn some stuff together.
I hope you'll check out my next post:  Sh*t My Characters Say: A Few Observations About Dialogue...

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