Winston Churchill said, “Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is – just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”
For those who have texted me, emailed me, or phoned me without response from me, I have been under water, finishing up the second draft to a novel. My apologies to you! I am now back among the living and I look forward to reconnecting. I can attest to Winston Churchill’s viewpoint. The tyranny of a novel seems to be like no other oppression. I am relieved to be turning the manuscript over to my talented niece, Molli Jean Kirkpatrick, and Ben Wheeler, talented editors who are going to spot me for a while and take a whack at the tyrant.
This series is about magic and takes place in two time frames — the Dark Ages and dystopia. The books are “The Barefoot Stories” and the first in the series is “The Barefoot King”.The other books all contain “Barefoot” including the last, “The Barefoot Wars.” The series was originally entitled “Not By Human Hands” and then “School of Secrets” but the publisher thought those series titles were too dark; so we agreed to “The Barefoot Stories”. While the series is shadowy, there is a deep river of optimism that is at the core of this epic which spans fourteen hundred years.
The manuscript (pictured) which has been heavily edited by myself, now goes into the youthful hands of Molli Jean and Ben for further editing. This has been the most ambitious thing I have ever tackled, beyond any movie franchise to which I have been associated. So often in the early stages of writing this, it seemed like I was alone against the world especially at 2 in the morning! In that time, there seems to be no one who can save you in the experience — not even God Omnipotent Your high is despair and your low is heartbreak — not a good place to be. My only desire has been to create a truly meaningful and entertaining experience for the reader. And so you keep pressing forward, pumped with the aspiration of creating something that someone will find beautiful.
In Ernest Hemingway’s wonderful interview in The Paris Review with George Plimpton, he spoke to this odd thing, “juice” — which is what a writer has every day for but a few hours and then he is out of it. ” When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”
By the way, a writer’s level of anguish or pain in the process, still doesn’t make it any good. Having not blogged for over a month, the traffic for my blog has gone up two fold by providing no new content.
However, I think massaging the material based on a critical eye can be helpful.
Having spent so many years in the movie business, I have been accustomed to focus groups. I believe that anything good artistically comes from the rub of strong, experienced criticism. So more shaping and reworking and reworking again. As one of my favorite authors, Nathaniel Hawthorne, once said. “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” And then come May of 2014, according to Churchill, that which you have killed gets flung to the public.