Winning the First Battle in the Lifelong War of Art
A true story from the writing trenches:
About ten years ago I was at a party at my new friend Mike McClellan’s parents’ house. Sometime during the evening Mike tugged me aside and told me he had an idea for a book that he wanted me to write. He had read Gates of Fire and he thought I had the gift for an epic, larger-than-life, historical saga.
Mike proceeded to tell me the story of The River War by Winston Churchill, a monumental tale of the Brits in the Sudan in the late 1800s, when Churchill was a young lieutenant at the battle of Omdurman. Mike was on fire with this story. As he described the arena and the characters and the politics, I had to stop him.
“Mike,” I said, “It’s not me who should write this book. It’s you.”
Short version: Mike did write it, and it came out freakin’ GREAT. Seven hundred and sixty-two pages of high adventure and romance. But here’s the really interesting thing that all of us as writers can relate to. About a year into the writing, Mike found the book morphing into something he hadn’t planned or even imagined.
The story was transforming itself from a straight historical saga to something more like Game of Thrones. In place of real geographic settings, Mike found himself inventing whole oceans and continents. His true historical characters became fictional creations. (And here’s another aspect we’ll all be able to identify with … Mike wrote two hours each morning, never missing a day, while living his real life as a lawyer, husband, and father of two young daughters.) The result is The Sand Sea. It’s exactly the kind of book I love, where the author fashions an entire universe and then sweeps you away into it.
I will say no more, as I don’t want to be guilty of hype. Except click on the link above for the full story on how to get a free eBook advance copy of The Sand Sea.
P.S. If you ever find yourself wanting another writer to write a book you feel burning in your guts, stop yourself and take a deep breath. Then write that book yourself.