Writing just for the fun of it.

When the story suddenly takes a sharp turn and heads down a road you didn’t even know existed, that’s fun.

I read a blog not long ago that was deeply disturbing. It was on Goodreads, of all places, and it was written by a genuine, card-carrying writer.

If I could have wadded my computer up into a paper ball and thrown it against the wall, I would have.

The writer wrote:

Have fun, because you aren’t going to make any money! Look, some guys spend $20,000 on a boat, fishing gear, licenses and then fill up with about a hundred dollars worth of gas and maybe, if they have a good day … catch a fish.  So if you spend your time writing, and then pay an editor, a book cover designer, and someone to format your book so that it looks nice, and end up with a book, what’s the difference?  The thing about the guy and his boat is that he is having fun.  Fishing is fun.  It involves some challenge and requires skill.  There are good days and bad.  If you feel the same way about writing, then it can be fun as well.

I’m not against having fun.

But there are many of us out here, and I’m sure you’re amongst us, who approach the art of writing with the same reverence we approach the chance to read a great book.

It’s all about the words.

It’s all about the emotion.

It’s all about the story.

It’s all about life, and, thank God, we all see life differently, which is why the literary world is filled with books that may have the same theme but possess vastly different storylines.

None of us may ever write a great book.

But we never stop trying.

Fun?

When the right adjective suddenly slams against a noun with the clarity of a ball peen hammer striking a metal stake, that’s fun.

When your character abruptly says something you had no idea he would say and wish you had thought of it first, that’s fun.

When the story suddenly takes a sharp turn and heads down a road you didn’t even know existed, that’s fun.

Take my Conspiracy of Lies, for example. Ambrose Lincoln is no longer the man he was. In a mind control experiment, the government has used electric shocks to erase his mind and take his memory away. Doctors re-map his brain before every mission. Every road he takes is a new one. I wrote:

Lincoln sat down on the edge of his bed and searched a memory that was scattered with the debris of things he knew and didn’t know and sometimes suspected and had no idea why.

That’s where he lived, he knew.

Not here.

Not the hereafter.

But somewhere in between.

He heard the footsteps coming down the hallway. It was not yet dark. They were coming for him early, and he had learned long ago that it was better to simply lie on the gurney, let the thick blue serum flow through his body, and drift away somewhere in the deep recesses of the netherworld while they touched the electrodes to his brain.

The shocks wouldn’t cure him.

They had told him that so long ago.

But they kept him sane.

The door opened. A nurse walked in, smiling as she always did when she condemned him again to purgatory. This time, she handed him a briefcase.

“Your car will be here in ten minutes,” she said softly. “Can you be dressed by then?”

Lincoln nodded.

He knew not to ask where he was going.

The nurse didn’t know.

He didn’t care.

He doesn’t know which road he will take.

Neither did I.

But finding out as I wrote along was great fun.

When your hero falls in love with the wrong girl and you realize it was the right girl, after all, that’s fun.

When you survey the suspects and only your detective knows who’s guilty, and he or she hasn’t told you yet, that’s fun.

When you place the last period at the end of the last word at the end of the last sentence, that’s fun.

When you see your book tucked away on Amazon or in a Barnes & Noble bookshelf, that’s fun.

And there has never been a boat built – not even a $20,000 boat – that can generate the excitement you feel when your book sells a few copies.

The naysayers like to stand there, look down their noses, and believe that writers are foolishly throwing their words into the wind.

You’ll never make any money, they say.

Well, just watch us.

We’ve sold a few.

You’ve not seen anything yet.

I pay them no attention.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re the same kind of folks who stood around with their thumbs in their belts and told the Wright Brothers: “Boys, you’d be better off if you stick with bicycles.”

Bicycles were a business.

Flying was fun.

Please click HERE to find Conspiracy of Lies on Amazon.

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  • “When your hero falls in love with the wrong girl” and the story has to find a plausible way out of that – or he will be stuck with the wrong girl, and he’s the kind of honorable guy who would try, especially if there are children. How does your story handle that?

    Writing is fun, but it is also something with gravitas.

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