Attune Yourself

I had coffee with Kate Veitch a couple of weeks ago while she was in town, and she asked me if it felt different to write my blog than my fiction. I agreed that it did, but I did not understand why until today. The subject of my blog is pretty much whatever is on my mind that day. As I described last week, for me all things can be viewed through the prism of writing, from toasting my bread to cutting my grass. In other words, I translate whatever I am feeling on a given day into a 400-word essay. This means there is almost no transition from what I am feeling to what I am writing.

Not so much with a novel. Novels by necessity are a limited experience. No novel, whether it’s a quiet coming of age literary debut or a bloody vampire sequel, can meet every emotional need. All stories must find their focus, and that focus becomes the vibration, if you will, to which the author must attune himself when he sits down to write.

Some days you arrive at your desk already attuned to your story. Because there is so little distance between where you are personally and where the story is trying to go, the writing – if you have a little craft in your quiver – will probably come quickly or at least painlessly. Other days the distance you must cross to attune yourself to the story is greater. On these days the writing might come slow or not at all – or it may simply take longer for you to find the vibration of the story. We have all had those days where in the last half hour of work the characters suddenly come alive.

As you write more and more you begin to understand that your job as a writer has more to do with learning to attune yourself than learning craft. Not only must you learn how to move from where you are when you sit down at the desk to where you must be to write your story, you must also learn to be kind and patient as you search for this alignment. Here you are learning not just to tell stories, but how to live as a writer.

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