I started taking an online writing class about the character-driven novel. I want to keep working on my writing and if I have to think about it, send emails about, analyze it, that keeps me working.
One of the first questions the teacher asked is "Why do you write?"
My response is "Why wouldn't I?"
Since I was a kid, I have kept notebooks filled with my writings. I would get up early on summer mornings, make a peanut butter sandwich and set off throughout the neighborhood looking for adventures that I could include in my writing.
This question forced me to think about the purpose of my writing.
I write because I love to tell stories. Truthfully though, it wouldn't be enough to simply write. I want two other things: I want to be paid for my writing and I want people to enjoy my writing. I want people to read my work in search of those little gems, those words that say precisely what the reader has felt.
Awhile ago, I gave a copy of my latest novel Ransoming Raphael to my friend Sheila. I can't remember when I gave it to her -- maybe last fall, maybe in January. Her life has been in a bit of turmoil as her daughter Bethany becomes an international model. In Ransoming Raphael, a woman travels to France to run her uncle's bed and breakfast and discovers his secret from World War II. While driving around in the backseat of a car in Paris, Sheila took out the manila folder that held the 295 pages of my novel and began to read.
She took pictures of bridges and buildings and flowers throughout the capital of France, and she read my novel. She emailed me when she was on page 104 to tell me she liked it.
Oh, how that made me heart soar. To have someone reading my work and enjoying it -- that feels so good.
Then today, early this morning, our time, she sent this message: "I'm a few pages from the end, I'm loving it btw."
Yippee! I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars. Approval is so energizing.
Within the hour she emailed again: "I like how everything ended up. Its perfect! I can see this as a movie, muy bien!"
Well, she's mixing up her languages, but what can you expect since she has been in both Italy and France within the week. The point is one person in the world has read my book and enjoyed it.
As I continue my online writing class, I'll tweak things in my novel and strengthen the characters and the words, but what motivates me even more is that eventually, more people will read my novel. Some will like it; some won't, but at least it will be on the shelf of a local bookstore for people to choose whether to pick it up or not. I feel sure of it.
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