I look at my writing like I look at a painting. A landscape in painting may deal with natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In storytelling, coherent composition is everything.
It’s a daunting landscape for today’s writer however, far more savage and hostile to the author than any other time in history. There is mass competition not just in numbers of authors and books available, but also in the ever increasing types of media available including the new virtual reality modes. Many things have changed, but the reader expects an author’s writing to be engaging and tight.
But one thing hasn’t changed, which is the often ignored book that is unacknowledged by the masses, and the lack of book sales due to under-marketing and non-marketing. But a complete dependence and dedication to marketing often takes away those valuable hours and energy that could be used for writing therefore limiting the work we do in the quiet of our solitude.
Many writers have enormous financial and political power as well as connections, but often lack in creative power. Yet they manage to break free from the rest of the pack and actually become best sellers. Whether we’re poets, historians, writers of romance books, novelists of fiction, travel writers, horror writers … that comes from us alone and has immense personal reward. We must persevere and not give up, and keep hoping that we will one day break free from the pack as well.
When I’m busy on a book, there is no such thing as a “typical” day. Some days the words flow out of me like Champagne into a flute. Other days I feel like I am wading through mud, sinking deeper with each step. The phone rings, the doorbell rings, there’s shopping to be done, the many chores to be conquered or an urgent email demanding a reply. That’s why I try to get away.
I take vacations whenever possible and enjoy personal time with my wife and family. This time is perfect for helping me to unwind and refresh. Soon I get back to my laptop and again begin creating the landscape of my manuscript. I’m in the middle of a new book right now. It’s going pretty well. The first draft is taking me longer than expected, but it is a collaboration with a writer friend of mine Rick Cherry. It’s rough keeping both of us on track and constantly checking that the plot works is difficult at best. The second draft we will hopefully polish the prose, fix faults in chronology and geography, and add meat to the bones of our characters.
So while my first drafts are usually done at a gallop – if I’m writing quickly, then the story will also have pace – I take things more slowly in the second and third drafts. The third draft is normally what my publisher Touch Point Press gets to see. That’s when the editor I work with really begins to tear at it and form it into something readable and enjoyable… that coherent composition I spoke about earlier.
I don’t see myself as a great writer, but I know that I want to be. I have begun to thrive on the feeling of accomplishment I get when I have written a good paragraph. I feel the need deep inside to write and always have. I do not like writers (including myself) who can’t tell a good story and expect their gimmicks to keep their readers buying their stuff. A really good storyteller will pursue the implications of the story wherever they lead, even if they call the storyteller’s own sanity into question. Perhaps, the best part for me about writing is when I totally lose it – when I become so immersed into a character I have created that I actually become that person.
To those of us who write, I say do it because you love writing and need to write. Success will come if you are willing to do the work, and learn as much about the craft of writing as you possibly can. Keep writing!
Michael Sprankle is a graduate of Penn State University with a BA in film. He has worked in the technology sales area for over 25 years, as well as a contracted bit-writer for screenplays in some of the largest studios in Hollywood. Previous novels include Once Upon a Time in New York, How I Painted My Masterpiece. Mr. Sprankle currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Galina and son Anthony.