Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Don't Write the Book of Your Heart

By Aaron Michael Ritchey

Let me start off by saying that writing the book of your heart sucks big monkey butt. 

I spent the last year working on the rough draft of a book I absolutely love. The words never flowed so well. The characters leapt from the page. It was epic, complicated, cross-genre. It was a joy to work on. I laughed, I cried, the story became a part of me. Was it better than Cats? Oh yeah. 

I loved my new book so much that on the way to that first critique meeting, I swore that if they didn’t love it, I would edit it all myself and send it out, because it was perfect the way it was, the way I had spent a year birthing it. 

Of course, that first critique session with my beloved project didn’t go well. When anyone said anything negative, I wanted to punch them right in the kisser. My baby? Ugly? How dare you?  I was like a petulant child. But that comes from writing the book of your heart.  It’s hard to be objective, even about simple word choice. 

I want to use that word, damn you. It’s my left ventricle.

When I’ve written other books that I wasn’t so invested in, it was so much easier to change things. You don’t like that my character is Asian? Okay, I’ll make her a redneck white girl from Alabama. You think Paris is the wrong setting? Okay, I’ll change it all to take place in Anchorage. Sure.

Here's the deal, though. Writing novels takes a lot of time and work. It’s like being married. Do I want to be married to someone I love, or do I want to be married to someone I can change without really caring? Okay, yeah, so both have their advantages.

Let me put it this way: writing takes blood. If you are going to bleed, do you want to bleed for your soul mate, or do you want to bleed for a casual acquaintance that you kind of like, but are mostly eh about?

Some people will tell you that readers can tell the difference between a book someone writes for love and one written for money. I don’t believe that. But I do believe this: If I’m going to spend hundreds of hours, perhaps thousands, working on a project, I better love it.

But as the poets have said, love hurts. 

So don’t write the book of your heart. Be mercenary. Write for the market. Write your Aunt Matilda’s life story as a tax accountant. Copy down other people’s ideas and stay completely detached.

Unless you can’t help yourself. Then yeah, I understand. And we’ll bleed together.

About the Writer:  YA Paranormal author Aaron Michael Ritchey has penned a dozen manuscripts in his 20 years as a writer. When he isn’t slapping around his muse, Aaron cycles to look fabulous, works in medical technologies, and keeps his family in silks and furs. His first novel, The Never Prayer, hit the streets on March 29, 2012.