Here it is. My official book launch day. In Three Days, the novel is finally available to all of you. And to say that I’m completely stoked is an understatement. I’m taking it all in, inhaling and exhaling and smiling like a kid at a birthday party eyeing a table full of presents and her favorite cake. Now, there were no paparazzi at my front door this morning, clutching cameras and microphones; the phone wasn’t buzzing clear off of the nightstand. But my heart is break dancing, spinning on its back with its legs stretched to the sky, it’s doing the robot and the wave and the Harlem Shake. And I feel like jumping in the air and doing that Toyota ‘Oh what a feeling’ jump. (You old heads remember that one.) But I won’t. But I am smiling and thinking: I did it. I said that I would and with the help of God I did it. Boom.
Getting published is a milestone and my journey continues, but today I get to sit and relax a minute, refresh and revive myself before I get up again, stretch those muscles, crack my neck and knuckles and continue onward. But I’d like to recap a few things I’ve learned because it never hurts but often helps.
Learn the craft of writing fiction
Becoming a marketing and social media guru is awesome. But while you’re doing all of that, don’t forget in the end you need to have a d@#$ good story. You must learn how to write and learn how to write well or you may have 15 minutes and that is all. And even if you have a natural knack or gift or talent there is so much to learn; study, buy books, attend seminars and conferences; read, read and then read some more. Read all kinds of fiction; understand the flow of story, the development of characters, plot development. Serious writers invest in their craft. Writing should not be a tedious and unpleasant thing. And you don’t necessarily have to think about technique as you write. But you will find that as you write that which you have learned will make its way into your story: a type of muscle memory of sorts. You will be amazed at how you are able to discern gaps or flaws in your story as you edit as you study the craft. You will have a better eye/ear to what is missing or what needs to be weeded out. Your writing will improve and grow, but unless you’re writing strictly for yourself, some things must be taught.
Allow your story to flow naturally
Don’t try to be or sound like the next great anything. Simply tell a good story. Write it until you’re interested and in to it. Make it funny or sad or ridiculously exciting, but tell it well. Remove thoughts of trying to remind others of… Just do you. And if you do it well, and without reservation, the rest will come easier.
Take the time to develop your story
Sometimes I watch those cooking shows; the ones where the chefs are given a set of ingredients and a time limit to turn out an amazing dish. One of chefs’ biggest complaints is time. They aren’t given enough time to create an excellent dish. Well, you have time. Take it to develop your story. If something isn’t working don’t ignore it. If a subplot isn’t working, take it out or revamp it. If a character is useless, he has got to go. As with cooking, no one wants a half-baked, thrown together piece of…Trust me, your reader will know when you stopped caring about the story.
Enjoy the journey
There are so many stops and resting points in our journey as writers. Yet it continues on. And as we accomplish goals, there are always more to accomplish. It is the mantra of life. Enjoy what you do. Breathe in and out; smell the fresh air, have fun with your characters. This is not root canal or outpatient surgery. It should be an experience that you relish, even if you don’t like every aspect of it. Every now and again stop to pick some flowers. Now inhale. O.K. exhale. Enjoy the journey.