As difficult as it can be to write, I’m finding it can also be addictive. With a fundamentally addictive personality, I guess I’m already used to getting consumed in whatever I’m involved in. That confession out of the way, the challenge for me is how to feed the need while staying true to myself and my fans.
I’m faced with trying to find an all too elusive point of balance within a continuously changing set of world values. On one hand it’s important to write what people want to read. On the other hand I feel an obligation to make sure what I write is actually worth reading.
It’s clear my stories have to be engaging and enjoyable or no one will want to read them, thus contributing to the decline in avid readers. (Not a particularly good thing for authors or for the world in general.) At the same time, I have a responsibility to society at large, and my posterity in particular, to try to make the world a better place than it was before I came along.
In seeking this elusive sweet spot, I find myself moving rather far afield from my comfortable zone of personal experience. (My whole life I’ve been told to write what I know. Contrary to what my children think, even at my age there’s a limit to what I know and have personally experienced.) My current project (working title Conspiring Men 1) is delving into areas where I have no experience beyond observing others and what I can learn through research. As a consequence, yesterday I did several hours of research in order to write a handful of paragraphs that will take the reader only a minute or two to read.
Conspiring Men is a major departure from what I have been creating in the Chet universe. It’s more gritty, exploring behavior and motivation from both sides of the moral and ethical fence. I’m striving to keep the story and delivery clean enough for young readers while taking a serious look at life that will benefit readers of my own advanced maturity. It’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever undertaken and I’m excited to see if I can pull together the story I’ve envisioned.
I started out discussing addiction so I probably ought to close out my thought before my rambling becomes completely obnoxious. Even as I’m realizing that writing can be addictive, there’s this little voice in the back of my mind that keeps whispering a warning about my real addiction. Try as I might I just can’t seem to get past my need for a daily fix of reading. Maybe that’s the real reason the research is consuming way more hours than the writing.
Until next time, wish me luck, and if you’re the praying kind I hope you’ll send up a few extra prayers for me.