Monday, August 23, 2010

Writing From the Heart

If you hang around people who write with the goal of publication in mind, you will most likely encounter a discussion about how much an author should consider the market when writing. Most authors that I have heard address this topic advise writers to compose from their hearts. I couldn’t agree more. It seems to me that writing the story that holds my interest to the point of giving up food and water is the way to go.

And yet. . .

I have to admit that I often dwell on what kind of story my readers most want. Considering the marketplace is like considering the chocolate cake on the counter. I know I should ignore it, yet it is there, tempting me to come closer. So, I am aware of what kids are not just reading, but devouring. But how much does awareness affect my writing?

After watching a certain thirteen-year-old that I adore finish his intense video game, I asked him (once his heart rate settled and he stopped sweating) about what books he has most loved reading. Answer: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Later, when I returned to my work in progress, I wondered if the previous chapters I had just finished writing were too quiet. Hmmmm.

And then I read a piece by Jerry Spinelli in the July/August Horn Book Magazine. Apparently, his first four books went unpublished. “I wanted to be read. I wanted to touch readers,” Mr. Spinelli wrote. For book number five, he stopped thinking about readers and focused on the story. This novel was published. “When I stopped aiming for readers, that’s when I got them,” he wrote. And: “I’ve since tried to write strictly for the story. . .” He won the Newbery Medal for Maniac Magee in 1991.

I think Mr. Spinelli has nailed it. Write for the story. Write from the heart.

What do you think?

5 comments:

  1. I'm with you. Write from the heart. You have to find your niche and be true to what you write best.

    great post!

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  2. I absolutely agree. Any most authors say the same thing in various different ways.

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  3. I so agree, Cynthia. It's such a long haul for a book to get from conception to publication - if we don't love it in the meantime, than it becomes just a job. I believe any book with lasting value must come from the author's heart.

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  4. I admire people who can write for hire but that is so not me. If I'm not intensely interested, then I can't find the motivation to finish.

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  5. Ahh, I'm in great company here! I'm glad to hear that you-all agree. Thanks for your wonderful comments!

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