Daily Archives: April 17, 2007

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April 17, 2007 by in category Writing tagged as ,

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by Gillian Doyle

LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING:
A Novelist Looks At His Craft

by David Morrell

“The difference between fiction writers and civilians is that we make it our life’s work to put our daydreams and day-nightmares on paper.” -David Morrell

As writers, we have all heard it said that we “write what we know” but David really brought it home to me that we consciously — and often unconsciously — write about our deepest fears, weaving them into our characters, good and bad.

On page 21 of his book– “. . . I’ve trained myself to pay attention to my daydreams/nightmares, to be aware of them as they’re happening, to wonder why certain imaginary situations are so insistent, and to use the most compelling of them as the inspiration of my novels. After the fact, I’ve learned to realize how the plots that attract me are metaphors for my psyche.”

My books have always come to me in the most vivid dreams unlike my other “normal” dreams. A time-travel romance was born of a dream I had experienced while sleeping aboard a replica of an 1830s hide-trading ship on the coast of California. Another book began after a dream of an 1890s boarding house where the little boy sitting next to me had dropped green peas on the red oriental carpet under his chair. Such details startle me in my dreams, and haunt my waking hours with an eerie feeling of having actually been there, physically, in the past.

What relief to read of someone else who experiences this “multisensory illusion”. I have written all of my stories based upon these peculiar guideposts. This is the reason why I have had such a hard time keeping on track with my writing career. I write what I must write. I write what pulls me into the story as if I am a child at the feet of a storyteller, mesmerized, enthralled. When I am asked by well-meaning writer-friends, “Why can’t you write for the market? If only you’d pay attention to what sells, you’d be a huge success.” But I don’t. I can’t. And for this reason, I have often gone months without writing, choosing instead to find my fulfillment in other ways. How sad, though. I could not seem to allow myself to finish books just for myself, even if they would never find a publisher.

And so I returned to writing once more. I write of daydreams and nightmares. I write what I need to write. If there is an editor out there who finds it compelling and wishes to publish it, I would be delighted but it will not make my life any better than it is right now at this moment. For I have been reminded by David that it is the writing itself that is the reward. (Read Lesson Number One and you will know what I mean.)

After reading LIFETIME, I was thrilled to meet David when he was our guest speaker last year. What a memorable day! After reading last year’s thriller, CREEPERS, I became an even bigger fan! I can’t wait to read his latest, SCAVENGER. (Click on the titles to go to video interviews with David about these novels.)

You can learn more about David at his website and his MySpace page

David Morrell with some of the members of the 2006 OCC/RWA Board

Top row, left to right:
Bobbie Cimo, Michelle Thorne, Sue (Gillian Doyle) Phillips, Michele Cwiertny, Marianne Donley
Bottom row, l-r:
Mindy Neff, David Morrell, Sandy (Sandra Paul) Chvostal

Gillian Doyle writes paranormal suspense. She invites you to drop by at her blog and say hello.

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