Today, due to all the flooding in Chicago, my best advice for anything would be: Buy galoshes.
But, if we’re talking about writing, and we are, my best advice is short and sweet and stemmed from a conversation with author Therese Walsh, co-founder of Writer Unboxed and author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy and the forthcoming The Moon Sisters. I’d told Therese that as I started writing my new novel and was really allowing myself to be distracted by the business of publishing. I kept wondering what would sell, what readers would like, how to incorporate new depths and layers to the story, how to capture the flag in the game of “Breaking Out.” And you know what Therese said?
“Separate the business from the craft.”
She was right.
I was melding the two. Not that I don’t want my new novel to end up on bookstore shelves one day—I do, I do, I do! But, in order to write it, I have to forget about that part. I can only write the story I was meant to write, rewrite it, polish it, rewrite it some more, and then…only then…can I worry about the business end of things. Where would it be placed in a store or an online site? I can’t pop in a vampire or a love story or a long lost sibling just because that’s what’s flying off the shelves today. I can’t write to the market, yet the market was seeping (oh so much like the water into my basement—nope, that was gushing) into my psyche. If ghosts or magic or a historical bent were natural to my story, or to me, it wouldn’t be a problem, it would be a challenge and I’d be up for it. But none of those things are what I write, it’s not how I think, it’s not how my stories flow (the water puns are unending).
So I wrote Therese’s advice on a sticky note or six and I put them everywhere. And then I just wrote my story and got back to my roots. Like I say in the subhead of my own writing blog: no heroes, no vampires, no high heels.
Well, maybe high heels. Nobody’s perfect.