Saturday, November 24, 2012

Write a story as if you were going to publish it

When I first thought on writing my current project I only wanted to gather all my experiences and put them in a story. I had enrolled myself in a personal quest for enlightenment and mental evolution. The Mission: Vanquishing inner demons. It sounds good material for an thrilling novel, isn't it?

Where to begin? Language. My mother tongue is Spanish but I worked as a translator. I thought writing my story in English would help me enhance my grasp on the language. After all, I had a fair knowledge of grammar, I had translated several specialized documents on Engineering, Law and Medicine. I have faced the challenge of highly technical terms so, how difficult could it be to try my "Shakespeare skills" now? I didn't know a single thing about genres, PoV, voice, and all that endless list of niceties involved in writing but, so what? I was doing this for fun and for a better grasp of English. It was not like I was going to publish it anyway.

Enthusiasm and confidence as my armor and shield, I went to my favorite corner in the dragon cave and instructed the dwarves to not pass me any calls. I was inspired, my muse stormed me with wonderful ideas. The first draft of "Path of Fire" was done in 3 days; twenty brilliant pages in English. I was exhilarated. Now I just had to develop it into a novel. Piece of cake. I had written sagas before, only they were in Spanish.

Although I didn't plan to publish it, I wanted it to be good. I have written several novels but I wanted this to be my master piece. My muse said "You must write it as if you were actually publishing it, even if you're not." I gave my word of honor, because dragons do have honor, you know? I didn't understand the full meaning of those words. I was blissfully oblivious to the difficulties ahead.

Until then, little I cared about factual accuracy. I chose my setting in India because my first idea was a war between Hindu God Agni and Goddess Kali. I never considered India was a different country, in a different continent with far different thinking than I have. All those "little" details can make things difficult for a writer but I was still confident. I'm a self-teaching creature and I have taught myself to use the Internet. I love doing research. I could handle this.

India: a country of appealing mysticism but also 20 official tongues, castes and an idiosyncrasy of its own. Just to pick up a name for my main character needed more than 100 hours of search. The echos of my frustration lingered in the dragon lair. "But it is just a name, for all gods!" In India, your name tells about your religion, your family, your caste, the place your family comes from, most likely your profession and in some cases, it will even tell if you are trust worthy or not.

It's not like you pick up a name just because you like the sound of it. I liked the sound of Aryan Khan, but I was pointed out that while Aryan was Hindu, Khan was Muslim and this was not appropriate. You have to be really careful and have a VERY good reason why you would mix Hindu and Muslim names.

I could have kept the name and write the story with characters with a Western thinking. It would have saved me months of research. But I made a promise to my muse. "Write it as if you were going to publish it." Credibility was important, I heard. I had to do things right even if it was the longer road.

This was only the tip of the iceberg. What was I writing? Somebody I asked me the genre. The what? I don't know. Fantasy, I suppose. What kind of Fantasy? Search. Somewhere I read about POV. To me it could mean Preference of Virgins, who needs that? Search. Oh, I write third multiple omniscient and it is outdated and frowned upon. So what? I'm writing for myself.

"Write as if you were going to publish it." I'm already wearing that "Ugh, alright" childish expression. Then it came Deep PoV, Voice, Characterization, Style, Theme, Suspension of Disbelief, Sub-genre, Pace, K Size, Trope, Cliche, Speech Pattern.....IjoesĂș! And the list kept growing in a ratio equal to my decreasing enthusiasm.

Arrgh. Enough! I only wanted to write a story for my own entertainment. I have never published any of my stories and I am ok with the "published writer impossible dream." My inner voice told me to write my story to the best of my ability and shelve it with all other stories. My muse pierced me with those fire golden eyes. Yes, I know. I said I wanted this to be my master piece and if I want a master piece I should do it worth to be published. And there is only one way to reach a publishable level and that's not the easy way out.

Welcome to the Father Dragon cave. Here you'll find this dragon's Secret Diary and the records of my journey to throw down the barriers of language, ignorance and doubt in order to walk The Path of Fire.

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