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.