I think one of the single most terrifying tasks I've ever faced as a writer was after I'd finished my first novel back in 1997. It was finally written and rewritten, line-dited—copy-edited—polished—poked—prodded and all sorts of mean-nasty-awful things (to channel a little Arlo Guthrie), until it shone ever so pretty.
After it had been shipped off, printed, sent back, and launched...
I sat down in front of the keyboard again and saw something a lot like this:
I suspect that the blank screen with that vast expanse of unsullied whiteness has ended more writing careers than any other single factor. I knew, I KNEW that any word I put there was going to be total and utter crap compared to the words that I had just sent off and received back from the printer all bound up and ever so pretty.
Forty books and about as many short stories later I face that blank screen with similar trepidation in some ways, but differently in some otherss.
I now know FOR A FACT that:
- Whatever I write there WILL be utter crap compared to what was just there. But I've also learned that what I put there is going to be less crappy by the time I'm done with it. As a matter of fact, there's a good chance that it will be less crappy than even its immediate predecessor—the beautiful, polished, ever-so-happy final draft that resided there before it.
- As I write that first draft, I will be utterly convinced that I'm wasting my and everyone else's time.
- That the future is a dark and dreary place and my halcyon days (if I even had any) are far behind me.
But I've discovered other FACTS as well:
- By the fifth paragraph, the character will sweep me off my feet and I won't be able to wait to learn more about them.
- By the fifth page, the character will meet another who will change their lives in ways that I can never imagine.
- By the fiftieth page, the story will wrap around me until it accompanies me as I walk down the street, eat a meal, or (god forbid) try to fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time.
I've learned that as much as I still hate to write the first line on that terrifying blank page, I can't wait to write the second. Because I also KNOW that all the above will come true.
When I start a new series, as I just did last month, I have the same initial reactions...made about ten times worse:
- The blank page is far blanker than usual...because it isn't just one book long, it's a whole series of the unknown!
- For some mad reason I have the audacity to think that I can create a whole new world that will engage my readers.
...and then I hit the fifth paragraph and the fifth page and the fiftieth page and then, in an eyeblink (that may actually be months or even years) I slam against the end of the story and wonder what happened to all of the hard stuff in between. And I'm left in wonder at all of the great side characters who rushed to the aid of the story as I typed it and marvel that they are now ready for their own story to be told.
The blank page still causes me deep fear, but the I also now feel a great freedom as I look at it and type:
Carla Anderson rolled up to the looming, storm-fence gate on her brother’s midnight-blue Kawasaki Ninja 1000 motorcycle. The pounding of the engine against her sore butt emphasized every mile from Fort Carson in Pueblo, Colorado, home of the 4th Infantry and hopefully never again the home of Sergeant Carla Anderson. The bike was all she had left of Clay, other than a folded flag, and she was here to honor that.
If this was the correct “here.”
Delta Force Book #1, Target Engaged, (military romantic suspense) has already been proclaimed:
- "Top 10 of the Year" -Smitten with Reading
- "M.L. Buchman's Best Yet!" -Booklist Reviews, starred review
- "Memorable characters with pulse-pounding action." -Publisher's Weekly
- "His books just amaze me!" -Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
A new series is like that. And experience has taught me that the bigger I dream, the greater the "genius, power and magic" my characters bring to my aid. I love writing in series and can only hope that you enjoy reading them.
More info at: www.mlbuchman.com
M. L. Buchman has over 40 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and twice Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” placing two titles on their “Top 101 Romances of the Last 10 Years” list. He has been nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews. In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.
In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.
He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife and is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at www.mlbuchman.com.