Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Dreaded No Man's Land

For now, if this blog is about anything, it is about fortitude. I'm writing my first book that I plan to publish--I passed the 200 page total not long ago--and am pushing steadily forward. Writing about writing is not generally very interesting, so I'll spare you the sentence-by-sentence experience of what I've encountered so far and say this: I have officially entered No Man's Land.

What is No Man's Land, you may ask? It's that area between your foxhole and the enemy's where rings of barbed wire and unexploded ordinance lay. Where landmines sit in the brush, waiting for a soldier to belly up to them. Where the grass has been scorched by flame throwers. Yes, it is the dreaded Middle Part of a book.

This, I was taught in school, is where good intentioned books go to die. And unlike much of what I learned in school, I've found out first hand that this old addage is actually true. How many books have I started writing and then abandoned 50-100 pages in? Several. But I'm bound and determined not to let that happen this time. And you should not let it happen either.

Going into the writing of this book, I looked myself in the (metaphorical) mirror and gave myself three solid, compelling reasons not to quit.

1.) The first reason is my family. I don't talk about them much here because I don't believe in discussing my personal life outside of writing, but I'll let the veil down a little and say that things have happened to make it a lot more important for me to produce something I'm proud of.

2.) I'm over 35. You can say all you want about writers only improving with age, but I feel that if I don't get my arse in gear, I will look back with regret at wasting my energetic years not publishing. I've written several short stories/screenplays and even a gigantic novel, but none of them have gone anywhere. Now I'm drawing a line in the sand. My current work in progress must be published, either by me or by a legacy publisher, and that's just the way it is.

3.) A friend of mine died a year ago. He was a wonderful guy--we played poker together, we went out on double dates, he even starred in a short film I wrote and directed. Do you have a friend who's up for anything anytime whenever? That was this guy. I thought I knew him reasonably well, we'd been friends for years, but as it turned out, after he died, everyone discovered he'd been going through utter turmoil that he'd only hinted at here or there, always downplaying his problems. Talk about a kick in the gut. It threw me for a loop because if any of his friends had known he was going through hell times fifty, we would've stepped in and done anything to help him.

So for a while I was very sad. And confused. But instead of letting myself stay depressed, I decided to write. I came up with a theme: no matter how much we may think we know someone, we really don't know them entirely. This spawned the book I'm now working on. I care very, very much about finishing it because I would like to dedicate it to this friend of mine who died way too young. Only in art can we live forever, so I hope to preserve my dear friend's memory in this way.

At any rate, these are my main reasons for kicking ass and making my novel the very best it can be. If you find yourself in No Man's Land (and for you, No Man's Land may have come at page 25 or at page 425; it's really just a state of mind), then I would suggest sitting down and typing out the concrete reasons why you MUST finish your book, and why it MUST be the most awesome book you can possibly write, as I've done above. You'll find that it's a great motivational tool. Good luck!

P.S. I know I broke my own rule about not giving away your secrets in this post. But hey--anything to help you out!

No comments:

Post a Comment