September 30th, 2010

I'd like to tell you the story about how and when I knew I wanted to write. I'm sure my story is very much like yours. I mean, there can't be that many different ways a person is drawn to this endeavor, n'est-ce pas?

Didn't the writing bug also bite you that one day you left middle school right after lunch due to the flu and on the way home you were abducted by aliens? Then, after being gone several years, they returned you back to the exact time and place they took you? And you were pretty much none the worse for the experience except for the curse they laid upon you: the ever-present desire to write novels but without the ability to construct a plot that would hold a reader's attention for more than half a latte? Didn't that happen to you too?

Here I am, more than seventeen years after my abduction, and I'm still living with this issue. I may someday fill you in on what happened during those intervening years, but not right now. Suffice it to say I spent a good chunk of it writing non-fiction. I certainly figured out how to write words good . . . but then I made a naive mental leap. I assumed this meant I could write a novel. "You're a great writer!" my imaginary friends would tell me. "You should be able to write a book without any problem at all."

If by "without any problem" my invisible pals meant "with lots and lots of problems," then they were spot on. Simply being able to write good is not the same thing as telling a good story. For a number of years I had an uneasy feeling this was the case. Fortunately, two very non-imaginary people, Jack and Jill, took a look at my work and pointed this out to me. They each employed a constructive manner using plenty of terms that couldn't possibly terminate a friendship.

As I prepare to give this another go tomorrow, the second month of PBWQ, I'm hoping the story structure I've worked and reworked over the last four to six weeks or so pays off. Otherwise I'm calling those aliens and demanding my money back.

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