A while back, I wrote a book called A Song After Dark. I remember thinking it was crap when I finished it, and I was afraid to show it to anyone. Truthfully, I’m very harsh on my writing, and most of the time I think it’s terrible. It takes someone whose opinion I trust to look at my writing and tell me that it’s pretty good.
That wasn’t my first novel, more like my eighth. But the situation hasn’t changed. It rides ever onward, morphing and reappearing with each book and story. I’ve learned, after almost a decade, to have fun with it, to love that part of writing—journeying into the unknown, into your own subconscious. It’s scary at times, but it’s always rewarding.
Luckily, I have my girlfriend, whose opinion I trust and who encourages me endlessly. I know now that looking at one’s own writing and being unsure of whether it’s good or not is just part of the game. The same goes for those times during writing a novel when you wonder whether you’ve taken the right path or not, when ask yourself where the hell all this nonsense is going, when you doubt whether you’ll ever finish the thing at all. It’s all a natural part of the process. Learn to love it, to let the third eye do what it will. Then, when the story has finally laid itself upon the page, clean up the mess and turn that coal into a diamond.
There are always tests along the way—endless rejections, non-existent sales, agents that take a year to respond. But those tests help you to grow stronger, to become a better writer, to write a more compelling story than the last one. If this is something you love to do, don’t give up, find that vital story inside you that needs to be told and lay it upon the page. Don’t shy away from violence, sex or cursing if your story calls for it. Be honest to the very end, and you just may have something great.
The one goal I have when I write is to create something that people will remember when they read it, whether they like it or not. Looking at the reviews I have for A Song After Dark, it looks like I succeeded on that one. The jury’s still out on Permanent Winter. And I have a short story collection coming out in early May, Cemeteries of the Heart and Other Stories (shameless plug). I don’t want mild reactions from people who read my work. I want them to love it or hate it, to feel something strongly about it. Then I’ll know I succeeded, that I affected them in the end. Isn’t that what stories are supposed to do?
About the author:
Grant Palmquist lives and works in Houston, TX. He holds a BA from the University of Houston. His writing has been featured in Chizine and Underground Voices. A Song After Dark is his first novel.
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