I am thrilled and honored to have a 3-part guest blog from Martha Brockenbrough this week on Writing the Book You Should Be Writing. Scroll down to check out Parts I and II.
Welcome back, Martha!
What can you do if this happens to you?
As I was grieving the year I spent on this project, I started thinking about the piece of throwaway writing that had so affected people I really admire.
I've gotten so accustomed to the idea of struggling in this business that I'd forgotten something important: to start with a premise that suited me. It wasn't just the type of story; it was the voice, the type of characters, the world of it. I had to stop looking at my favorite books on the shelves and instead, spent time thinking about what a Bookshelf of Me ought to look like.
I realized that writing a great book isn't necessarily writing the sort of book others have written that you love. It's not about echoing the canon. It's about finding the story inside of you that only you can tell in your own, singular voice.
It means you have to stop trying to be one of your own literary heroes, and instead, start looking at your own talent as something worth honing to its peak. In other words, you have to be your own literary hero, or at least grant that you have that potential. If you can't fill yourself with that kind of hope, you're never going to lift off.
I've started a new novel. In fact, I'm almost done with a draft, and I can honestly say I've never had such fun writing something. There's a lot of work to do, but the honing part of this will be a happy experience because I know I have a book that's authentically mine. I love it like it's one of my children, and not just some kid I'm babysitting.
This doesn't mean I've completely abandoned my 100,000-word opus, though. I do think about it from time to time. There is a story there with a beginning, a middle, and an end. What's missing is the hardest part—me.