Life is full of challenge. That’s what makes it interesting, to be sure. As a writer though, the challenges are different. It’s about finding publishers or keeping them. It’s finding sales, and keeping them. It’s finding an audience and keeping it.
The list can go on and on but, as a writer, sometimes the biggest challenge is just to find the story. I mean, it’s easy to have an idea, ideas are everywhere, but finding one that stays with you and which speaks to you and makes you want to see what happens next. Writing is all about finding those stories, those flashes of lightning, and bottling them. It is all about mining rocks and turning them into diamonds.
I had a bit of a challenge recently with a story that I wasn’t sure I wanted to write. I was given a lead for a podcast that a friend has been on and which is a good place to get your work out there. I queried the woman who runs the site and she was super nice and told me what she was looking for with the next season, which was tradition monsters, something I don’t really write. I mean, I have some zombie stories and ghost stories and all but, when it comes to traditional stuff ala the Universal Horror variety with your vampires, Frankenstein monsters, and the like, well, I don’t really have those. So I sent her a zombie story and she had one. I sat around and thought about a different kind, one that’d work, that would fit what she needed but was like, well, dammit, I just don’t feel this, so I bowed out.
Luckily for me, the woman with the site wasn’t read to give up on ME. She said to hang in there, presented me with some options, and I sat on it for a few hours before deciding to have a crack at it. So I started working on the piece with a definite idea in mind with what I wanted to write and what I wanted it to be. As I wrote though, it sorta changed. It became more straightforward, and more about the horror of this situation and less about a relationship I saw. I left the story at a crucial point late the first night I was working on it because I needed to get to bed and I needed to leave it at a place where I could move it around still. That night I went to bed with an idea, a germ that infected me and which changed the story and shaped where it’d go.
The next day I worked on the story until it was done and came up with something that really worked for me. It felt right. I sent it off immediately to the woman with the podcast and she happily accepted it. And me, I got to stretch some writing muscles I hadn’t used in a while. I hadn’t really pushed myself to make something work, to make it come together, and it worked. I took something I wasn’t passionate about and made it into something that worked.
It’s one of those things where, without the challenges you forget what you are able to do. They are not always fun but when you rise to them, they are always valuable.