Monday, September 14, 2015

Climbing the Rough Writing Trail

A childhood friend's suicide changed my life. I don't know if I would have traveled if he did not leave. But either way, there was something balled up inside me. 

For years I wandered Europe, hitch hiked North to South, harvested apples and hay. My soul sang for joy as I stood on a Paris on ramp, waving at drivers. I ran a bar in Israel and traveled atop supply trucks through Africa. The world was my playground.
All the while there was something caged inside me that wanted out. Since fifth grade, when a story I was writing jumped off the page and danced around me, I had to be a writer.

During my gypsy days I sold some travel articles to newspapers and wrote two bad novels and hundreds of stories. I didn't know my wandering was my path to being a writer. Through practice and reading I was learning the craft and tempering it with experience.

The novel is a fascinating, complex art form. I took classes, attended conferences, read like a fiend, practiced without end. And after years of work I am a beginner.

When Kindle came along I made tremendous mistakes. In one weekend 10,000 people downloaded a suspense novel of mine, only to find vertical text. It was a painful experience.

Now here I am. I have spent more than three years writing a new novel. Touching Spirits is about to be released on Kindle. I paid to have it professionally formatted, filtered it through three Beta readers (a process invaluable!), but I can't help but wonder if my name is tainted because of the previous blunder.

For that reason I am considering the pen name Charles Madrid. The result of years of study and practice is about to be on display. If I have created a book that readers will be sad to finish, a book that sits on a shelf and makes them nostalgic when they pass and see it, then I have gone beyond the formula novel.

Time and experience have tempered that caged beast. Whatever richness or wisdom travel brought to my writing, I consider it a gift from my friend. That's how I choose to remember a friend.