Saturday, September 27, 2008

Writing for the Fun of It

By Keith Fisher

When I started writing fiction, I was getting up at five a.m. Mostly, because my restless mind wouldn’t let me sleep longer. I had a stressful job and the workload seemed overwhelming. Every morning I’d show up at six, even though I didn’t need to be there until eight. I would go home each evening and run my house design business. My home office was stacked with blueprints and books on standards, codes, and beam stress.

One night I came home and turned on my computer. Instead of CAD, I loaded word and began to tell a story about a young girl who gets an unbelievable job offer. Is there a hidden price to pay? Are there secrets best left undetected? Will she choose the life of a rich recluse, or follow her dream of being a star?

At the time, I didn’t have any houses to design, so each night I went home and told more of the story. I finished it three months later. In the world of published fiction, at one hundred thirty-six pages, my book stood out as a mediocre first draft. I thought it was fantastic because I had lived the story in my mind. I never considered the reader, and whether others would want to read it too.

As I mentioned last week, in the interest of getting publishing credits, I put the first book aside, and started another book. It wasn’t until after my second book got rejected, that I realized I didn’t know anything about writing a book. I could plot a good story, but I was a terrible wordsmith. I also discovered an increased desire to tell stories. I found myself plotting whole books in my head, from beginning to end while attending sacrament meeting.

I was hooked. How could I turn my back on this? I began to seek help in books about writing, and to rewrite my second book. I created lives just outside my realm. My characters came alive for me and I continued to struggle and tell their story. My day job had become manageable. The stress hadn’t disappeared, but I found release in solving the problems of a character in an impossible situation.

After a while, cheap software products made it easier for homeowners to design and draw their own houses and I didn’t have the necessary resources to build my design business so I put the blueprints away. The design standards and engineering books got moved to a higher shelf. The writing and grammar books came down to a shelf within arm's reach. My office gradually transformed into my writing space.

In 2005 I lost my job, and every time I asked myself what I should do, it kept coming back to, finish my book. I was in the middle of re-writing my second book and writing my third. I submitted my second book to a different publisher. It got rejected—I was devastated—I kept writing. I attended my first writer’s conference in March of 2006 and felt gratified to know there were many others, just like me. I discovered I was normal.

Now that I’m about to submit my sixth book, I look back over the long list of works in process. I have fifteen books in different stages of development. I have been taking chapters of my first book to critique group. I’ve re-written it several times. The last time I took it apart and rebuilt it from the ground up. I hope you will like it.

With all these books I’ve started, you probably guessed, I like writing more than editing. I still have ideas come to me in sacrament meeting, and everywhere else I let my mind wander. I get excited about a new idea and if I can’t persuade someone else to write it, I start drafting it. I write for the pleasure of writing.

I used to mentally walk through the rooms of houses I designed. And see it transformed into the real thing. Now, I launch my mind into a story I have written, walking through scenes as if I was there. Like when someone built one of my houses, my stories will be books and I'll be thrilled when people read them. I want to touch hearts with my books, but in reality, I touch my own heart every day.

Jeffrey S Savage, in his blog, said: . . .writing should be a joy in and of itself. If you don’t love doing it, why bother? I love doing it. I hope you do too. If I looked at my writing with a feudalistic view, I might be tempted to quit. Again from Mr. Savage: Seventy percent of getting published is how well you write. The other thirty percent is pure dumb luck. I write for the fun of it. My completed story has its own rewards.

However, like driving past a house I designed, seeing one of my books on a bookstore shelf will be icing on the cake.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


G. Parker said...

Oh so true!! Well said. I didn't know you designed houses!! cool. Good luck with the latest submission!

Melanie Goldmund said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for telling me that I am not the only person who thinks about writing books during Sacrament Meeting!


Weston Elliott said...

You know, if your bishop finds out that you're daydreaming in Sarament Meeting, you're going to get asked to give a talk! LOL

Good luck on your latest submission!