Tuesday, January 15, 2013
MARATHON MAN BY TOM RIZZO
Storytelling is part of our social fabric, a natural extension of the communication process. Most people love to tell stories. It's a way of connecting with each. I've written stories for most of my life. But they've been the non-fiction variety—news, sports, articles, and marketing materials. Once, however, I wrote an article that I thought might serve as the core for a novel.
Since I did have a wealth of other kinds of writing experience, I figured maybe it wouldn't be all that difficult. I think anyone who writes dreams of producing the so-called Great American Novel. The temptation hangs out there like a big curveball waiting for you to take a swing. But, it's the part before the swing that counts:
• Realization of how vast the creative canvas
• Mental Toughness
• Implementing the idea
My novel, Last Stand At Bitter Creek, was the first attempt at fiction. I learned a lot of lessons along the way. The creative process differs for everyone, and sometimes in amusing ways. For example, my idea for the novel came about based on a single paragraph I had written about the main character. Yep –one paragraph.
And I really fell in love with this paragraph – about six-lines long – and had planned to use it as the opening to the story. Try as I might, I was never able to shoehorn those six lines into the lead of the novel, no matter how hard I tried. It just didn’t work. One of those lessons I learned was that word's can't be forced. They have to flow in a natural progression so they reveal, and illuminate, the internal struggles, and external influences, of the characters we're writing about.
Writing a novel can be intimidating because there are so many elements involved—
• Core story idea
There are other components at play, too, depending on the complexity of the story. A novelist, in my opinion, has to be one-part jigsaw puzzle solver, and one-part orchestra leader.
Someone once asked why I didn't start by writing short stories, rather than tackle a novel. The question always brings to mind a story about when I decided to run my first marathon, many years ago. Among the world-class runners participating was Bill Rogers, who had won the Boston and New York City marathons four times each. I had arranged to interview him at the airport. On our walk too baggage claim, he asked me if I was running in Sunday's marathon.
"Yes, I am. It'll be my first marathon."
"First one, huh. How many 10ks have you run?"
"A 10k? What's a 10k?"
Rogers turned to me, a slight smile on his face.
"What's your goal? What do you hope to accomplish?"
"All I wanna do is finish, man. Just finish."
Writing a novel is a little like a marathon. But you gotta finish.
I'm giving away a digital copy of LAST STAND AT BITTER CREEK to one commenter today. Yep, all you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment, and your contact information. If you just can't wait to see if you won, then go here to grab your copy:
Thanks for joining me today!