I was going to write about the last book in our series, Legacies, rapidly moving along and how it feels reaching the end of such an intense project, and how there’s so much we still want to do with these characters in this particular moment of time for them, and how I could totally see how JK Rowling ended up with a HUGE final book in the Harry Potter series.
But…I can’t help think of Marley & Me. Particularly, the scene where Marley is let off the leash, where for one perfect moment, everything is beautiful. One by one each owner lets their dog loose and it makes you want to go “Aw, that’s so beautiful, look at all the happy dogs!”
Then Marley takes a poo in the water.
And the cops show up.
Writing is kind of like that. You start off with an idea for a novel. You spend hours upon hours wrestling with every aspect of that idea, putting it on a leash, taking it to obedience school, trying to keep it under control while it drags you all over creation the moment something catches its attention. Your story will make you laugh, cry, fill you with frustration, piss you off, and make you look at it in sheer wonder and admiration. You will walk away from it and come back to shredded cushions of creation, padding strewn about your mental landscape, chewed up pieces of plot that no longer apply and give you moments of “What the hell was I thinking there?”
Every word is a memory, whether it’s your own or your character’s. But really, aren’t we all our characters deep down? It’s all us. It’s all you. Those intimate pieces of yourself you don’t know how to express any other way. You will look at a particular passage and remember exactly how you felt when you wrote it, what inspired it, for better or worse.
You will let the leash slip every now and then. You’ll break rules and discover it actually works in an oddly pleasant way. Your fans will ask how could you do such a thing, and you’ll smile and say “Because I can.” But deep down, you’ll know it’s because it WORKS.
And even then, not everything works. Mistakes will be made. Grand mistakes. Mind-blowing mistakes. But you need them. They help you discover what you could have done better and what you really shouldn’t have done at all. You’ll spoil your story rotten because you love it so much, you’ll get drunk on your own words, suffer through the hangover the next morning, and then get down to business again.
You’ll generously share your words, writing thousands upon thousands of them. Then you’ll throw out just as many, if not more. But you know what? There’s always more. Words are never wasted. They’re recycled and used later, sometimes in different forms, but never wasted.
In the end, you’ll leave your mark on the world, your own unique stamp that said “I was here and this is the story I wanted to tell you.” Why? Because it was far too good to keep to yourself. Stories are like that, they need sharing and we as Storytellers need to tell them…or we’ll bust. Seriously, we have to let these stories out. Sock drawers only have so much room and dust bunnies make for a poor audience.
Take a look at your writing today. Have you let it slip the leash lately? I have, and I’ll tell you it feels great.