It’s funny how things in life work.
If we’re observant.
I don’t know how many of you really notice all the “coincidences” and synchronicities that abound out there, but I do my best to remain open to them…and I notice a lot of them in my life, so they have to exist in others’ lives. In fact, I believe they exist in all our lives.
After posting my Short-Lived Modeling post, one of my brothers tweeted a snippet from an interview with Bill Duke—which I added to the comments of my modeling post. It totally applies to the acting class I described there…but the more I thought about it, it also applies to writing.
Sorry about repeating some of the discussion from previous posts, but in my current WIP I’ve written about how I was initially embarrassed about the work, because I had to write graphic sex scenes. “Had to,” mind you. That I had gotten over that and was finally really “taking ownership” of the work in all of its psychic entirety. And this is true…but while going back over it (again and again…), I’d begun to question whether or not I’d truly surrendered fully to the story itself.
You see, in my life, even in my way of thinking—to which only I am truly privy to the actual images and thoughts I think—I never use certain words and rarely use others (you’re gonna see the “C” word, the “P” word, et cetera and some “very uncomfortable scenes”…)…yet in this WIP I have to. Or should, but in one or two instances actually found myself “pulling their punches,” goddammit.
And that bugged me!
Because I feel that this novel will severely kick ass, and if I lessen anything about it, I’ve cheated the story.
As I reworked this stuff, I kept thinking to myself, WWSK do?
What Would Stephen King Do.
He’d go there, I told myself. He would. But he would do it so it would fit the story, in that it wouldn’t seem like just some foul-mouthed punk trying get people’s “rocks off.”
So there are scenes, there are words that will offend the easily offended in this novel. There are scenes and words that will certainly raise the eyebrows of those who know me…because, yes, I’m “going there.” And I’m trying my damnedest to do it in the “best fit” for the story.
Because, in the end, it is all about the story.
I have to fully surrender to the story.
I have to “go there” and shock and anger and enlighten and entertain, and do what this story needs me to do without short-changing it a single shilling. I cannot cheat the story, cannot cheat the characters. I began this book in 1997 and it’s been on my mind ever since.
Should I publish it?
What will people think about me if I publish it?
I just can’t care about that last one, the story is that important. But, also because of one other thought that continually echoes in my head, largely because of my wife:
How will you feel if you don’t publish it?
To be truthful, I don’t know that she ever voiced these particular words…but she uses similar wording for similar situations…
Do you really want to spend a portion of your life to get this [INSERT ITEM]?
Do you really want to spend a portion of your life doing this [INSERT ITEM]?
How will you feel if you don‘t do it?
So, now, I’m making up words my wife might say!
But, for the past 16 years these thoughts have whirled about in my head like an angry wasp. And nearly everyone I’ve bounced this stuff off of all say the same thing: if I feel so strongly about the story, I should do it.
Of course, I knew this.
But, you see, I was partially worried about how I would be perceived, much like Vladimir Nabokov agonized over, when he published Lolita. Now, my novel is nothing even close to what Mr. Nabokov wrote about, but I found the synchronicity of my discovery about his anguish too “coincidental” to ignore (I only found out about this last year, when I was “agonizing over” whether I should or shouldn’t publish this WIP).
And another thing: when I made the decision way back in 1997 to write this novel, I considered this (also as I’ve previously stated elsewhere): I wanted to write something that would stretch my abilities as a writer. I’d written all kinds of paranormal and supernatural material. Graphic violence, that kind of thing, yeah, I “went there” in a pretty gnarly story or two that will most likely never see the light of day…but I’d never written about sex, and I thought, gee, sex is such a beautiful thing, in and of itself, why are we all so uptight about talking about it, reading it, et cetera? And I don’t mean the crass and degrading porno versions of it, but the loving, caring organic beauty of the act between people?
Not that I knew exactly what I’d be writing about…because, I didn’t, truly didn’t know what I was going to write about (I don’t outline)…but when I came up with the log line for what I was about to attempt to write, I knew there had to be some sex scenes involved. And, once I became engrossed in the actual writing, well, it became evident pretty fast that yeah, I really couldn’t avoid “going there” in getting this story out.
So, the thirty-eight-year-old me decided, I needed to write this book, to get past the embarrassment of writing about something that (at the time) did, indeed, embarrass me. To be the kind of writer I wanted to be, the kind that writes from the heart, the gut—that surrenders to the role—I had to be able to “go there” as stories demand.
I had to be able to get the job done.
Do my job.
And, I figured, if I could write graphic sex scenes…then I could write about anything!
I didn’t and don’t want to be known as a writer of erotic fiction (I do have four other novels out there)…though there is nothing inherently wrong with writing erotica (the genre genuinely doesn’t bother me), that is just not my goal. What I would like to be known for (in so far as all this goes) is that I’m good writer. I get the job done. I entertain, I make people think. Get them to see the other side to Life and the things people do or don’t do. That my readers get lost in the stories and forget they’re reading.
That they can see themselves or others they know in my work.
That is my endgame, that is whey I’m “going there” in my WIP, why I will (hopefully!) make readers cringe, be a little uncomfortable, get angry, cry, or whatever when they read this novel (I get all these ways writing this WIP, so if I do, surely others will, as well!)—which, again, I know I’ve repeated myself some in this post, this is the most mainstream effort of mine to date. I simply have to surrender to the role of this story—
There’s just no other way.