Monday, August 23, 2010

Guest Post ~ Michael Knudsen

Mike currently works as a call center manager for a subsidiary of the Xerox Corporation. He caught the fiction bug as a small child and has not been able to stop reading or writing since. He worked for about a year in a formal wear shop in downtown Salt Lake City while making his way through college, and couldn't stop thinking about how great a setting it would make for a coming-of-age romantic comedy from a male perspective. Twenty years and countless drafts later, his first novel The Rogue Shop will be released by Cedar Fort in December 2010. Mike also enjoys running, hiking the Wasatch mountains, and spending time with his wife and three children. He tries to keep things lively on his blog; you can visit it here.

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I've noticed that the Storymakers/AI group encompasses a full range of writers. There are those trying hard to break into the (relatively) tiny LDS market with their first novel. There are those who have developed substantial followings with their series romances or standalone thrillers. Then there are those with ambitions in the national market, some of whom have broken through in a big way. It's been gratifying to see how much time and effort the published are willing to invest in mentoring and teaching the unpublished masses. With our talents, the Law of Consecration flourishes in the here and now.

Some of us have clear goals and know exactly where we're headed. Others face the question: Should I write for my people, or for the national market? It makes sense to think that more is better when it comes to the influence good writing can have. On the other hand, the worth of souls is great, even one being of infinite value. From that perspective your writing is an unqualified success if it never touches anyone beyond yourself.

Of course, God wants us to expand our vision, lengthen our stride, and enlarge the sphere of our influence. This involves relentless practice of our craft, annual conferences and critique groups, and, when success comes, coaching others as we were once coached. The best way to maximize the size of our audience is to improve the quality of our product. To mangle Shakespeare, good writing will out.

My first novel, launching in December, was written primarily for LDS eyes only. That's just the kind of story it is. If it's successful, a few thousand people will read it and be touched in some way. I might make enough money to replace the noisy washing machine in the basement. My new project is an epic fantasy that will hopefully appeal to a thicker slice of those who appreciate such things. If successful, tens of thousands could read it. Am I doing this because I want to slip the surly bonds of my day job and pound the keyboard in my jammies all day? Well, fantasists do fantasize, but my primary motivation is the sure knowledge that this is the story I am supposed to be writing now.

Channel your daily ambition into plotting, word counts, drafts, and revisions. Forget about bestseller status and how your name looks on the cover. Learn about genres and how the publishing industry works, but ultimately let your story tell you who it's for. When you get stuck, turn your characters loose on the page and let them take you to undiscovered places. If we are to be partakers of the divine nature, we should certainly allow our creations their agency within the microcosm of our fictive dreams. This has always been my answer to writer's block.

When success does come, it may come at an unlikely time and on an unexpected scale. Tears in a loved one's eyes after reading your story or enthusiastic acknowledgment of your progress by a respected alpha reader are every bit as much of a win as a book contract or lineup of fans at Costco. Those with access to personal revelation should have no trouble knowing when they've rendered 'good and faithful' service with their writing.

Never worry that you're wasting your time. To steal an old fisherman's saying, "time spent writing cannot be deducted from a person's life."

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Thanks, Michael, for being our guest today!

Next week, we are excited to have Rebecca Blevins as our featured blogger.

If you would like to be our guest, email Connie for information.


RaShelle said...

Hey Michael - Great post. As one getting the opportunity to read you newest novel on a regular basis - tens of thousands sums it up. It's going to be great. Also, I'll take a long line at Costco any day. I know, I'm terrible. LOL

kbrebes said...

Inspirational. Thank you!