Write the Void
I remember being told more than once, “write what you want to write.”
It took me years to figure out that such advice really isn’t entirely accurate. Because writing isn’t a selfish pursuit if done correctly. In fact writing is basically the most irritating, maddening act of stupidity one can partake in IF they are doing it well. Because great stories, especially in Young Adult, aren’t written because some author wanted to write THAT story. Unforgettable books are written by authors who write what they themselves would WANT to READ.
I know – you’re saying I’m just mucking about with semantics, but there is a huge difference between writing what you want to write, versus writing what you want to read.
I’ve always set out to write the void – to fill at gap, a need, a missing piece of the former stories I’ve read and loved. And I do think of myself first and foremost as a storyteller, rather than a writer. Anyone can be a writer. Anyone can be an author.
Storytelling, however, is an art and the goal is simple: to draw a stranger into a world that lives only in your mind and keep them there, rapt to your characters and plot. A writer-storyteller, committed to their craft, is a purveyor of addiction and a master puppeteer. A writer-storyteller commands the attention and mind of the reader or listener.
My job is to not control the character, but to control the reader, bringing them to laugh out loud in a public place, or sob in the quiet of their own rocking chair. If I do my job, then I, as the writer, am entirely forgotten. The words on the page disappear into a private stage show that runs solely in the mind of the reader. I know I’ve hit my mark when people say they are rereading my books for the 3rd or 4th time, or the characters have invaded their dreams, or they must write about the world I created and draw the characters that exist only in the confines of my books. I want to haunt someone’s mind.
I want to compose scenes so rich that you can feel the cold winter on your skin or taste the sea foam choking you as you fight the current. Stories that steal my sanity, burn my dinner, and make me skip a decent night’s sleep are the books I WANT to read.
And so when I write, I don’t do so because I have a burning desire to put pen to paper, but rather I’m filling a missing piece in my reading library. I’m writing what I want to read, and as a YA writer, I’m also writing what I wanted to read when I was in high school.
Write the void.
Write with your soul.
Write the addiction.