Anyone who has written fiction can attest to this: writing fiction is hard. And it’s hard not for the reasons you would think. Most people think that story ideas are tough. Story ideas are the easy part, the hard part is making sure that your writing lives up to reader expectations because it is, and always will be, about the reader. You want them to not just like the book, but to love it.
When I first wrote The Publicist, the feedback on it was a bit mixed. But you know what? They were all right. Well, except for that reviewer who said I’d glorified extra-marital affairs because I haven’t. I’ll leave that job to Don Draper. I did, however, learn a lot. There’s an art and a fine line to writing a book that people not only want to read, but also want to share. I mean, how often have you read a book that you’ve told a friend about? Probably not a lot, right? Writing that kind of a book is not easy. There’s also the other piece of this: the characters. I found that in Book One I loved the characters but actually fell in love with them in Book Two. So now, writing the final chapter in this series I find that it’s both exciting and sad. While I hate seeing them go, I love them all so much because I know them almost as well as I know myself. I want to give them all the happy ending they so richly deserve. In my head, Kate is as real as I am and maybe in a way that’s because I am Kate – not all of her, but her work and her passions are my passions.
I’ve also healed a lot of past stuff through Kate and also used her to work things out in my head. Her life is often my life and vice verse. In a sense, she’s “my person”, the friend you call up when you’re confused and don’t know what to do. Except for me, Kate exists only on paper and in my head. Still, she’s there for me as I try and muddle through my own life. Showing me through her own flawed self how I can be a better version of me.
So, while we all know it’s fiction, at some point it crosses over and becomes real. Like the characters on the shows we watch. We get mad at them for making the choices they do, we live with them during their peril or sad times. They are real to us, in an odd sort of way. It’s not easy creating characters like that. Not easy at all. And when a reader or viewer becomes so drawn to a character, or comments in a review about a certain aspect of the character. Well, it’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven.
The other day I read a recent review on The Publicist. The reviewer not only got the book, but she got Kate – 100%. As a writer, we live for this. Here’s the review, if you’re interested!
Writing fiction is one of the most rewarding and cathartic things I’ve ever done. Often it’s a gut-wrenching, soul searching expedition into the unknown, undefined, and unexplored. Sometimes I’ll sit down to start a chapter and all of a sudden the characters take this in a direction I had not anticipated. That is what I love about writing fiction. We often tap into this inner voice or untapped knowledge we have that only shows up when we write.
Writing fiction is a ridiculously delicious vacation, it’s a romp through another world, another life and sometimes, another time. And it’s the most humbling power trip you can ever take. I wish that my books were as fun to read as they are to write but I think that would be almost impossible to achieve. Writing brings with it a splendor that reading could never live up to. It is a gift I am wildly grateful for and I hope to never take for granted.
For many years I stopped writing fiction, actually ten years to be exact. I wrote nothing but nonfiction and while that was fine, it did not enrich me the way that this writing does. I am so glad I returned to it.
I am grateful to Kate and Mac and Nick and the voices they are in my head. I love them all and I love you, dear reader, for welcoming them into your lives.
I hope Book Three does not disappoint.