Most of us have been regularly rejected since we were young children. Even if only temporarily, I’ve been rejected by friends, family, co-workers, bosses, pets (why does that hurt the most?), strangers, peers, acquaintances, intimate partners, kids. It’s part of life. Some times hurt more than others, and some feel more personal than others. But we move on—unless we’re hoping for that second-chance romance HEA, right?
At the beginning of 2020, I decided that I would stop reading the news. It was one of my goals. Instead I would read books. My decision was prompted by the realisation that knowing the news each day did not contribute to my wellbeing in any way. It wasted valuable time I could be writing or reading. And if we’re honest with ourselves, the news is mostly sensationalist crap!
Unless a fairy doomed you from birth to only tell the truth (like Tomas in Power of a Princess) you are a constant liar. Just like me and everyone else in the world. The interesting thing about lies is that most of us think we are honest—we underestimate how often we lie to protect our self-esteem. This means that your characters need to be liars too. But just like us, our characters always lie for a reason. And just like us, they often don’t realise they’re doing it!
I once had a friend who decided he was going to change careers. He dreamed of abandoning his spreadsheets to become a psychiatrist. He couldn’t see anything more worthwhile in life than discovering the inner workings of humans. I agreed. But gee, it takes around 11 years to get qualified. Sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? Crazy decision (pun intended).
My current WIP is a novel rewrite with some specific goals in mind. The primary issue to fix is a distinct lack of introspection. This has completely thrown out the pacing which unfortunately means the suspense is not as, well, suspenseful as it might be.
One of my favourite paintings is David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. The picture to the left does not do the painting justice. In person, it is incredible. But paintings like this can teach us a lot as writers as they are a moment in time after a lifetime of backstory. And a moment in time is exactly where we find our protagonist.
The writer’s competitor is no longer other writers. It is social media. The poorly written opinions on Reddit can hook a reader quicker than the first five sentences of your carefully written literary fiction.
It has been years since I even thought about writing a short story. Which is probably why it felt like a lightbulb moment when a writer friend suggested I start.
I recently watched the Netflix movie 365 Days to see what the fuss was about. For those of you who have not seen it, it’s loosely Beauty and the Beast with a lot of sex. Personally, I found it distressing and disturbing and struggled to watch to the end. Yet it has been so successful in terms of viewers that a sequel is in the works. The reviews on the other hand have been so bad it has been nominated for 6 separate “worst” awards. My theory behind this dichotomy is that romance is still very much grounded in escapism.
Mark Twain’s words “the truth is stranger than fiction” have become a cliché because they are accurate. As fiction writers, we get to experience this in real time: the first reader or editor comments, “that just wasn’t believable”; yet you had stolen it from a real life experience. This played out for me when I read a recent interview.