You’ve heard about the “therapy book,” right? The first book every author produces that isn’t so much a story but the story of your life in whatever twisted, organic form it happens to take when it tumbles out of your brain onto the page?
Really? You haven’t heard about that? Wow. You must be new.
This is why newbie writers are told not to get too attached to that first book. ‘Cause it may be, for lack of a nicer word, compost. Yes, you slaved, and yes, your momma liked it, but to the rest of the world…well, keep trying. Writing is an art, not a science.
I’m not saying your writing (or your life, for that matter) sucks eggs, but perhaps your unintended autobiography of it does. This isn’t me talking. This is years of writers’ conferences and lectures. I’m just sharing the joy.
My first book isn’t a therapy book. It’s too good. I have vivid characters and a solid plot, all kinds of twists and turns, and nobody is anything like me. Okay, it drags a bit in places and maybe gets a bit confusing somewhere in the middle, but, overall, it’s pretty clear and sensible.
Definitely not compost.
So I must be the exception that makes the rule, right? The one writer out of a billion who doesn’t start with a therapy book. I am exceptional. Just ask Momma Turtle. It’s possible.
But not likely.
As I’ve struggled to overcome consistent obstacles in my production of Book Number Three, I am confronting the fact that I have nothing in common with my main characters (except arrogance. We got that going for us). I don’t know what it’s like to be psychic (the only thing my gut ever tells me is when to eat next). I don’t know what it’s like to be a robot (some might argue with that statement but I don’t think those folks read my blog posts). I don’t even know what it’s like to be an adrenaline junkie (my blood pressure was so low at my last dental appointment the hygienist woke me up to comment I was barely with her).
So what does this tell me? It tells me Star of Justice flowed from my fingers because it was my story. I knew it. I lived it. It’s me all over, from the vivid characters to the dragging middle parts. All the twists and turns are my twists and turns. I wrote a therapy book. I just couldn’t see it.
And it broadens my understanding of therapy books. They don’t have to be compost. They just have to be you. (There’s that arrogance again. Did ya notice?)
You would think I would apply my mantra of “it’s all about me” to my writing, and I do, but it took me eight years to admit it. I suppose that’s quick for a turtle. Of course, this “search for me” must be balanced against “author intrusion.” Writing is an art, not a science.
My goal at the moment is to find me in Past Ties. Without me, it just ain’t happening for the rest of us.
What about you, authors? What are your thoughts on therapy books?
Readers, have you ever read a book and thought, “Wow. Somebody’s working out issues.” Did it make the book for you or break it?