Friday, March 14, 2014

Guest Post: Author Java Davis

College and graduate studies in literary research and linguistics. 15 years in marketing as an editor and typesetter/photocompositor. Retired/disabled.

Leanne, you asked me lots of questions about writing, but to me, writing is not the issue, nor is it the goal.  My goal is to be an interesting story-teller.  A person can write beautifully, but if you have no story, it’s pointless.
My method of writing a novel is to have a good story in mind.  Then I just start.  I let the story and the characters surprise me along the way.  If I’m surprised, so might a reader be.  This is contrary to the conventional wisdom that you should work with an outline and have your characters’ growths fleshed out in advance.  In the book I just finished writing, a minor character became a major character, and one that I thought would be a major character became a minor one.  Ultimately, the story is the way it’s supposed to be, with the help of my characters.
I try to include places and things that I know well.  I’ve traveled through many states in the U.S., and I incorporate those places.  I’m a car nut, and I love choosing the cars that my characters drive.  I’ve had a variety of jobs over the years, and my characters are often employed in those occupations.  I also like to have at least one of my characters be Jewish, throwing my own faith into the mix.  In my latest book, however, I wasn’t able to work in a Jewish character. 
For three years after I wrote my first novel, I kept it a secret from all family and friends.  It was important to me that they be spared from giving me their candid opinions.  If they hated my work, they would feel terrible giving me the bad news.  Eventually, I opened up to family and friends, including my husband.  That was a big hoop to jump through, for his sake.  Only my sister had a poor opinion that she was scared to express, but she reads books on astrophysics for fun, so my simple stories have nothing to offer her.  And that’s OK.
Meeting other independent authors and their readers online is a huge part of the process.  I adore them all!  Creative, fun, enthusiastic, and anxious to please!  I try to be as supportive as possible to fellow authors and am grateful when they do the same.  A few of them are way too sensitive to criticism.  They’re in love with every word they write.  That’s just not practical.  Criticism comes with the job, and not every book is for every person.  Marketing is often the equivalent of bashing your head into a brick wall.  The wall doesn’t give, and your head gets bloody.  I wish I had a magic bullet for the marketing part of independent authorship.
-- Java Davis, 2013