Monday, 16 July 2012

Is it a Book or a Story?

A lot of my blog updates have been about what happens in regards to book related events I.E ‘I got another rejection from an agent’… or ‘I’m doing another edit’…
Yet I think the most important blog updates have been about the things I’ve learned while on this journey. Today’s update is about one of those learning experiences.

In the last few months I have learned how important the following statement is- ‘It is not necessarily what you say, but how you say it.’ This has happened for various reasons but most importantly I’ve been thinking about it because of the current changes that are taking place with the Book of Prophecy.

Since the last update things have been moving forward in a way that I had not expected. After working with the editor, and that not working out, I believed that the way forward was to take what I had learned and do my best to improve the Book of Prophecy. I thought this was going to be by myself and I was happy enough with that. My writer friend Starbuck had always said she would help me with another thorough edit but it was her friend that was the editor so I thought because that hadn’t worked out she would take a step back from helping me with my writing. Obviously I knew we would still be friends but I thought it was too much to ask for her help, especially as she has so much going on in her own life. However once again she has amazed me with her kindness, generosity and belief in my work.

After accepting her generous offer of help we went to work and she has been helping me with the Book of Prophecy. This is where, in the context of writing, I have seen how there’s a difference between what you say/write and how you say/write it. Thus I have discovered the difference between a book and a story… and wow does Starbuck know how to write a story. I’ll always remember a comment Starbuck made, which has almost become an on going joke. The comment was that I write like I’m writing a text book- this is true. I wish so badly that it wasn’t the case and I could write a story with all the skills she has. Yet I sometimes wonder if the way I write is linked to the way my brain works and processes things. If that’s the case I’m okay with the fact I write like a text book because the way my brain works ultimately is what created the plot so I shouldn’t complain. Now what I need to do is keep that way of processing things but learn how to add certain things to my text book to make it a story, which is happening, but for some reason it’s really difficult for me.  

In hindsight I see my biggest mistake in this whole adventure was to think it was enough to have the story written in a series of events, one after the other, and people would like it because of what it contained. I was so wrong and ignorant to think this. I couldn’t see what the story was missing, but I have been shown clearly that ‘how’ something is written is perhaps even more important than ‘what’ is written. This is a complete 180 turn around on my previous attitude and I’m grateful for the experiences that have opened my eyes. Having it as a book that contains a plot isn’t enough, it has to fun and immerse the reader in that world. It sounds obvious but I didn’t fully understand this fact.

I’m truly lucky to have Starbuck teaching me this. The difference she is making is incredible. It’s still the same story, and there really isn’t any plot change as such, but with adding little things here and there, and wording things differently, it’s turning into something that is remarkably better that what it was before. The way I look at it is the Book of Prophecy has been like a sponge cake and now Starbuck is helping with adding the icing, sprinkles and chocolate drops. In terms of time, energy, and contribution to the size of the cake, it really isn’t that much, but it’s actually what makes the cake taste awesome. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

As a closing comment I just want to say that every time I read the new chapters I get really excited because of how much better it is as a story. Yet there’s still a lot of work to do so the cake decorating continues…

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