Whenever I start a project, writing, or movie, or art, or whatever, I am immediately in love. It’s the rosy red fury of infatuation and the more I work on it the deeper I fall. It’s only when I step back to look at the landscape more clearly that I start to waiver.
I start to ask –
Is this even any good?
And that’s one of those hard parts of creation because you are the worst critic you will face. If YOU lose faith and talk yourself out of the project then you’re in trouble because it’s very, very hard to re-stoke that fire.
And as to good or not, no one really can say with any honest authority before it’s even completed and even then, it’s going to be an opinion, no matter WHAT someone tells you or how loudly they proclaim something as being good or bad.
Some will love it, some will hate it, and most won’t care one way or another.
I took part in an art show the other day and my wife told me of a local woman we know, a poet, who came into the show and was immediately revulsed by a photo my wife was showing. And on first blush it’s the kind of thing that would upset you, like, gosh, that hurts, but then you have to step back and take a better look. The woman is a very conservative person of devout faith, who just isn’t going to be into darker art BUT the piece still elicited a very visceral response from her and that’s powerful. It’s better than indifference, even if it’s not the positive reaction you may like.
But if you don’t believe in your work, if you can’t commit to it fully, then you cannot be surprised if no one else does either. That distance will show. That aloofness.
You can be as clever as you please but if there’s no passion it’s just sex without love.
It’s an act without meaning.
I have been writing seriously since I was around fifteen, so I have written a lot of stories, a lot of blogs, and on and on and I have written when I wasn’t feeling it. Sometimes you have to, you have to push past your personal indifference and blocks, or you won’t get anything done. My most powerful work though comes from a place of passion. I had to force a lot of my newest novel ROAD KILL. I had to force it because it was a book I started when I was a kid. It was a book I lost and had to find within myself once more. I wasn’t sure what I felt about the book as I wrote it and even as I revised it, I wasn’t sure if it was what I meant to say. It’s a mean book. A dark book. It’s a lot different than the one I wrote as a kid.
Having lived with this book since January, having thought about it, about its characters and its story, the more I have come to love it.
Yes, it’s a dark book, it’s a book about pain, anger, secrets, lies, and revenge, so it’s going to be grim stuff.
But I think it says a lot too.
I think it tells a compelling story.
I love, love, love that it connects to so many other worlds I have written about.
I love that it gives more life to the little towns I created.
I love that it has its own mythology.
I think it’s a better book than I first believed.
The world hasn’t found it, but it’s out there to be discovered, and from that book there are tendrils to other works and other worlds and a bigger mythology of this weird region of Michigan I have created.
ROAD KILL isn’t a book for everyone.
I think though, for the right reader, it’s a heck of a ride.