Just Write the Book Already

Imagining a first bestseller is easy––the sales, interviews on national television, the Pulitzer Prize, the big parties and book signings…but what about actually writing the book?

For me, it takes tremendous discipline, consistency, and commitment just to get the words out, never mind creativity and at least a smidgen of talent. I knew going into my first novel that it wouldn’t be easy, as I’d had many years’ experience writing for theater and television where rewrites and late nights were the norms. Sure, screenwriting was tough work, but I loved the challenge. Hard work didn’t scare me then nor does it now.

Writing novels comes with a different set of demands than screenwriting. For one, there’s not a team of writers to collaborate with, as I write alone. The group effort and tight deadlines meant that others counted on me. But writing a book, well, I could just walk past my office for days, never write a thing, and no one would know…except me.

When there’s a problem with a specific scene and I’m stuck, the onus is on me to get out of a creative jam. At times, I will sit and work on it for hours and other times I will walk away for a little while. And the rewrites are tough. My second novel Fugue required four drafts, each one with substantial editing. Tedious work. But let me tell you, the freedom in book writing – particularly fiction – is boundless. If you want to create a one million-man army, go ahead. There’s no budget that chokes your creativity, no one saying that it won’t work in the frame or on the stage.

But all good writing, no matter how liberating, has to be edited or you may as well not do it at all. And the excitement of finishing a book is like no other creative experience I’ve encountered. After seemingly countless drafts, deep dive edits, proofreading, and a few trusted sets of eyes to review it, that manuscript is all your doing. It’s a major achievement no matter what follows, even if you don’t win the Pulitzer this time around.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” Well, I must agree. Writing a book is painful and challenging, but boy, is it worth it.
Do you like to write?

–Gy Waldron
Author of Twist of Time, Fugue, and a third novel on the way

Every Character Matters

I began my writing career in journalism as an investigative reporter. Eventually, I wrote one-act plays, and the transition from journalism to playwriting wasn’t as bumpy as you might think. From there, I moved into television.

Of all the television work I undertook, miniseries were my favorite to write. They have a defined beginning, middle and end. They’re steadily fast paced and culminate swiftly. There’s no time to waste. While there was more to my television career, it was predominately replete with writing, and I liked that a lot.

Shortly after my last television job, before I had a chance to know it was happening, I found myself writing my first novel. It didn’t occur to me to write a book, until it did, and the transition was seamless

Miniseries gather momentum and I enjoy the swiftness with which we get to know characters, so I chose to write novels this way. By the time you’ve finished the second chapter, you know who everyone is; they all have a purpose for being there, and everyone – even the thugs – have at least a little good in them.

In “Fugue,” my second and latest novel, every chapter is laid out like a piece of music. There’s a rhythm to the paragraphs that echoes the structure of classical composition. My background in music helped this along, but a lot of it was luck. It felt easy, which is a blessing because most of my writing is more an act of sprezzatura, or effortful nonchalance—difficult and challenging with the appearance of simplicity and ease.

Now that I’m well into my third novel, a stylistic pattern is well under way, in that I operate on two levels: Every book I write has an element of mystery, and there is something to learn. I write what I know (borrowing from Twain), and find the subject interesting. I hope you do, too.

–Gy

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50 Shades of Great

I have been extremely blessed to have a career in writing for the better part of my life. Starting out as a director at a news station in Atlanta, I never imagined that one day I would be writing novels – after spending three decades in TV and film. Making the jump from TV to novels has literally been the most liberating experience in my creative existence as a writer.

I feel like the shackles have been removed. There are no budgets for my stories. If I want my character to go from Santa Barbara to Paris, it just takes a few taps on my keyboard. And best of all – I don’t get a call from the studio head two hours later telling me global excursions from California to France are not in the budget. Writing novels has given me total creative license to kill who I want, when I want, how I want and where I want. Ok, that sounds better in my head than it looks on my computer screen 🙂 But, with that freedom comes a sense of walking a new rope without a net.

The point is that my writing career has taken me to many, many stops – from Atlanta to Hazzard County to Los Angeles and beyond. I have made life long friends through my writing. And now, in this next phase of my writing career, I’m making new friends. But, I do feel like I’m starting over – learning a new craft, and wondering if my writing chops from another entertainment medium will translate to novels. I believe that they will – but as writers, we are constantly hoping that we aren’t out of ideas. That we still have something to say that people will want to hear … or read. I’m completely humbled by the kind words I constantly receive from Dukes fans, and from folks who are probably just amazed that I’m still upright and kicking. And, I’m incredibly impressed by the authors I’ve learned about who are writing series of novels and building fan bases that rival anything I’ve ever seen in TV and film. You are ALL my heroes and my inspiration.

I read a quote today from E.L. James – “I’m not a great writer.” That made me laugh out loud. Untold millions of folks would argue otherwise dear! It also got me to thinking – what constitutes “great” writing? To me, great writing is simply great storytelling. Nothing more and nothing less. Taste, style, genre, and any other moniker don’t really matter. Great stories are great stories – PERIOD. And, Ms. James, if you can write a story (or a trilogy) that millions of people clamor to read – and will line up to see when your story moves to the silver screen – you are a pretty great writer in my book! 50 Shades of Great!

Blessings,
Gy