Have you ever heard that life is like a roller-coaster, full of ups and downs, twist and turns? I know I have, and it’s a line I’ve come to grasp at its core as a writer, because the career/ life of an author is exactly like a roller-coaster.
Let me explain, first of all, with my overactive imagination, when someone offers insight like the line above, I literally see a roller-coaster and establish a connection with the experience I’m going through. Think back to the first time you stepped foot on a roller-coaster, more than likely it was right after you reached the appropriate height for the ride that the ‘big kids’ were riding. You were at the theme park to have fun, make memories, and in someway explore. How do I relate this to writing? Most authors have lived a little before they begin to write, you have to, I’m not talking about traveling the world or climbing Mount Everest, you just have to ‘feel’ what you are writing, and the soul of any story is the emotions behind the characters, no matter how paranormal or set in reality it may be. Living a little may just mean that you have felt, or endured a relationship like your characters. So, a new writer has now reached the appropriate ‘height’, or life experience to begin this ride.
As a young child you sit in your seat and the harness comes down over you and locks in place, noticing that the harness is a few inches above your shoulders, you may doubt that you really are big enough for this ride. In the life of a writer, it’s the same way, it's not hard to believe that the shoes you have just put on are a little too big for you to fill, which is completely normal, novels were among the first forms of entertainment, therefore, great writers have been around for centuries.
On your first ride on this roller-coaster the friends that have come along with you distract you from any fears that you may fall out of this machine, by laughing, talking to you about how excited they are, they make you feel like you can ride this ride, not once, but a thousand times, and you relax into your seat, trusting that this is going to be the most amazing thing that you do that day, or have done so far in your life. In writing it’s the same way, once you announce your commitment, you will notice an excitement in the ones around you, the pride that lingers in their eyes when you speak of the story you are creating...adrenaline becomes a part of your daily diet, your story chases you every second of your life, even into your dreams.
After all the rules are clearly explained by the attendant the ride begins, the wind whisks through your hair as the ride gains speed, your heart races with excitement, you keep saying “I can’t believe I’m doing this - ME - I’m doing this”. Which is how a writer feels when a wondering daydream begins to shape into a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
Then, as any exhilarating ride would have, a climb begins, shifting you back in your seat, allowing you only to see the clear sky above you. At this point for a writer, even though your body is feeding you adrenaline, causing your heart to race, you’ve relaxed into your place, you are going through the climb every writer must make, completing the final stages of your novel, the dreaded polishing stage, the final edits, creating a summary, a cover, reaching out to bloggers, and literary peers, all the while, with a pounding heart, your wondering what is going to happen when you reach the peak of this climb.
All rides are different, much like the careers of writers, the ride may reach the peak only to twist and turn hundreds of feet above the ground, or it may race back to the earth only to jolt you up into the sky again. No matter the ride, you feel your insides shifting with the velocity of the ride, your shoulders will slam into the harness as your world is flipped upside down, you will find yourself going through every emotion from terror to exhilaration, at times laughing, others screaming.
Every novel I have released has taken me on a different ride, sometimes there are dramatic down falls, and exhilarating lifts. Those falls maybe those silent days when you don’t hear from a reader, or come across someone who is not your biggest fan, the uplifts are when you feel like you could have written a book about the ABC’s and conquered the world, simply because everywhere you glance you see a mention of the fictional people you have created. You maybe thinking that this is how as a writer I associate this career, in that one ride, but the truth is this is just the public side of writing, the points where as writers and readers we cheer each other on, and if a fall comes we reach out and pick each other up, and in the end smile and say “do you want to ride it again?” then race to find yourself in a long line of people who are waiting for this adrenaline filled experience, but the private side to this career is another ride, one that carries the same emotions, but on a more personal level.
When I begin a story, I begin a ride. I’ve pulled ideas into a daydream and have an notion of where I’m going, and I’m prepared for my characters to surprise me with their ups and downs, I am the story. I may be looking you in the eye, talking about the latest events in the media, but in my mind, I’m in another world, a world of my own, waiting for the next chapter to unfold before my eyes, living in a constant state of excitement. When the story is written, complete, even if I’m consumed with the marketing of my past novels, or preparing the last novel I’d written for publication, inside, I’m craving one more ride, one more story, one more escape that will take me on the ride of my life, through emotions I would only dare to feel in my own life, through scenarios that are so unreal that they feel real to me.
The biggest down by far are those places in between novels, when your looking for a different ‘ride’ a new source of adrenaline. For me, those points have never lasted more than a few weeks, but man, those are some long days, days where you run out of closets to clean out, social posts you could make, where you have caught up on everything in your life, and realize how long a twenty-four hour period is.....I despise that time!
I’m just overcoming one of those periods, and now I hear my characters calling my name to give them my full attention again. At this point when I’m beginning a story I’m grateful that ‘THE VOICES ARE BACK’, but at the same time I fear that next bridge, space between my novels.
Out of everything I have learned in this career one thing has really stayed with me, the higher the high, the lower the low...meaning enjoy cloud nine while your on it, bask in it, soak it up, so when the fall comes, the low, you remember that emotion and you fight to get it back, and the next time you fight to get higher. It doesn't matter if your stories go as far as your dreams envisioned that they would, all the matters is grasping that next daydream, corralling all your emotions into your core, and writing as fast as your fingers will allow you to, I could not imagine a more powerful addiction than this career.
Writing is like a roller coaster, and it’s an exhilarating life, one that I would not trade for any other career.
Writers do you agree? Readers are there points in your life when you have chased a feeling like this?