Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Writing for My Audience

I'm writing a book.

I'm writing an actual honest-to-god book. 

I started playing around with a book idea a few years ago, during NaNoWriMo, and got about thirty pages into it. And then my life got complicated, and I couldn't find the hour every night to sit with my characters and write. So the book got tucked away in the virtual file cabinet of my Google drive.

And then, a few months ago, I told my son, "so I'm working on this book."

"You are??"

And I told him what it was about, and he was very interested. It's sort of a kid's book, although there are parts of it that are weighty and complicated, so it's a complex sort of kid's book. 

Anyway, I read him a few pages. We still do bedtime reading every night, and that night, I read him a bit of my book. 

He loved it. 

So I read him some more of the short mini-chapters I had written. He ate it up. So, what the heck, I started working on finishing a scene that I had been playing with. Read that to him. He giggled at the right spots, and at the exciting parts, I could hear his breath growing shallow. 

Then I came home from work one day, and he said "dad, did you write any more of your book?"

"No," I said, and I could just tell how disappointed he was. Not in me. He just wanted more of the story. 

So I wrote another five pages the next day, at work, during my lunch break. I brought in my personal computer, and wrote a blue streak. My colleagues kept asking me what I was doing, and I kept ignoring them. (I'm probably getting a reputation at work.)

I'm writing a book. I have over sixty pages done now. So it's not just a little hobby. It's getting to the point where it's developing a structure, and the characters are starting to breathe and to inhabit my dreams.

I bit the bullet and downloaded Scrivener, so I could properly manage this thing as a real book.

I walk down the street now and think about scenes. I imagine how my main character would react to different situations. I take pictures of buildings and imagine the scenes I could place in them. 

I'm reading a wonderful book right now, called All the Birds in the Sky. I started thinking about this miraculous work of fiction that Charlie Jane Anders breathed into existence, that I was holding in my hand, and then realized that my book could be that. That the chapters I'm writing could be chapters in a published book. My prologue could be a prologue in a bound volume. I don't know how to describe the feeling. But for the first time, I realized that the book I had in my head could actually become a book that people purchased and read and gave to their friends for birthdays. My book is becoming real. This could happen. 

My son just finished fifth grade, and they did a little writing project at the end of the year where they asked them questions: what they learned, what their favorite part of the year was, who their favorite author was, questions like that. 

When it came to the question about his favorite author, my son wrote my name. I was his favorite author.

My son listed me as his favorite author.

Tears are in my eyes right now. I studied creative writing over twenty years ago, and I'm finally writing for the first time since I graduated. And my son is reading it, and encouraging me, and he's suggesting scenes and characters to me. My son is helping me breathe this book into life. 

I'm writing this book now for him. It might get published someday, and I'll be delighted if and when that happens. But right now, this is his book. I'm writing it because he is my audience, and he is the greatest audience I ever could have imagined.

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