In the natural world, I don’t talk much about writing (though I probably should). When I do, people often open up about their lifelong passions. Most of them seem to feel that although they’d love to do something about those lifelong dreams, they’ll never get the chance. What I believe, though, is that those passions tell us who we are.
For me, it began with the The Wizard of Oz. (I think it inspired many writers.) I was four or five the first time I saw it. They had me at Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but every scene that followed left me spellbound. By the age of eight, I wrote fairy tales and years later went on to poetry. At sixteen, I wrote a novel. It was rather an aimless story, and my idea of a hero at sixteen should have been a big red flag—as in, you need therapy, Kid, but it was over five hundred pages!
Another inspiration came to me at nineteen—someone else’s story that moved me. I submitted it directly to Random House, which you could do back then. They rejected it, but I followed up and ultimately learned they were willing to reconsider it if I reconstructed it in the manner they suggested. I was a cocky little egomaniac, so I didn’t. I scrapped that, too, and went in a different direction with Soul of a Child, my third attempt at a novel. It was the best of the three since I was learning to master my craft, but I kept getting sidetracked—relationships, work, other career options, illness, tragedy, one distraction after another.
Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, I began toying with the idea of reconstructing the three books into a series. Initially, I was too distracted to focus. I had to set small goals, just do it for an hour a day and then work up from there. As the momentum began to build, I made writing my priority. That meant waking up at four a.m. every day to work a few hours before getting ready for my job at a law firm. I may have fallen asleep anywhere between seven and nine p.m., but it was worth it to me.
In 2009, I completed the first book of that series, except I had started at the beginning of my protagonist’s life, and she was still twelve on page four hundred fifty.I realized then; I had been doing it wrong from the start. (This is why you need patience and resilience.) Not that I expect everyone to run into this particular problem, but there are plenty of problems to go around.
It occurred to me that, in this undertaking, I had tunnel vision. I was trying to get everything in and everything accurate as if someone had subpoenaed me to testify. Second, I was writing about my life. That hadn’t been the plan initially, but since such a peculiar story had developed, I felt compelled to share it. Then, starting at the beginning of a protagonist’s young life in a novel can be tricky—and boring if you are not careful. Charles Dickens, a master storyteller, pulled it off brilliantly in David Copperfield, but I obviously didn’t.
It was time to start over yet again. And this is all part of the learning process. You learn what a dumb-ass you are, and you fix it. That’s true of life, in general, if you’re doing it right, and it’s certainly true of writing.
I had to part with much of the material I initially wanted to include. As a writer, I knew that deep down. The emotional connection to this saga was blinding me. One of the first things we learn as writers is to write what we know, but it’s okay to learn as you go, to research, and to, quite frankly, make shit up. It’s fiction, damn it. If someone wants to write about his or her life, that’s great. It wasn’t working for me. Fiction is what inspired me, so I reached a point where it no longer mattered what actually happened to someone at some point and what didn’t. That made it a lot easier. I could focus on the storytelling aspect. Once again, the foundation had to be tweaked, all of that groundwork. I would end up with a fictitious story loosely based on a story that was true for someone at some point or another (as it should be). Isn’t that how it usually goes?
I went through thousands of pages of notes and poured over the old manuscripts. Eventually, I had everything organized into folders. Now and then, I show someone the obsessively, compulsively, and meticulously organized file folders on my hard drive, and they can’t believe what I’ve done here. I can’t believe it either.
My eyes were blind sometimes after a day’s work. I fought distractions like they were demons. I put together two volumes of poetry while working on this first book of the series and got one of them published. (The other will be out soon.) Those are good distractions, but there were not so good ones. And there were also sudden waves of anxiety (seemingly out of nowhere) not to mention the occasional moments of outright fear. I drank water, opened windows, got air, and just let myself breathe; reminding myself it will all turn out okay. My fellow writers understand this: Often it is just you and the moon, you and the rain, or you and the sun outside your window reminding you that life is passing too quickly. But it is, indeed, okay. In fact, most of the time, it’s quite peaceful and beautiful.
I have been fortunate to receive an abundance of praise thus far for whatever I have put out there. I am fortunate, too, to have wonderful friends and family members, particularly my son, my sister and my nephew, all of whom have cheered me on at every turn. Their encouragement and support mean more than they know.
I have writer friends who can attest to the fact that you will lose people along the way. In fact, when I was dreaming of all this at eight, I had no idea what a thick skin I would need. Some people will wage a personal passive aggressive war with you, and you can’t waste too much energy there. The “not enough to go around” syndrome is real, and the people who suffer from it perceive your gains as their losses. Leave them to sort it out. You don’t have to. People will get mad at you for even wanting what you want, or they want you to fail for whatever reason they decide. Let them. You did the hard work, earned your accomplishments, and that’s what matters. It helps to focus on that, keep working hard, and doing your best. The rewards come, and then they keep coming.
I know, too, that no matter how tough it may get, I’m in. I have always been a writer and will always be a writer. It’s what I do and who I am, and I’ll deal.I have immense gratitude for being able to do what I do and for the privilege of sharing it with others.
If you ask me, it is a miracle that I managed to get this far, but I have completed the first book of my series. It is now in the hands of my editor. It was such an insanely long journey that I marked the day and time, August 17, 2015, at 5 pm. And since all the groundwork is complete, the subsequent books in the series won’t be far behind.
It’s a trite saying by now, but if you don’t believe in you, no one will. For many of us, getting to that level and staying there is in itself, a journey. I know, too, we can always find reasons, excuses not to do it. You have to muster up some courage and become part of the celebration of triumph. As I see it, there are two corners, the cheering corner, and the grimace corner. Everybody in the cheering corner gets a taste of victory. Camaraderie begins, and it leads to making dreams come true. It’s contagious. In the grimace corner, they just continue to whine, criticize, and make faces. It’s about what’s in your heart. Ignore them. Just do it. I’ll be holding your hand from afar.
© Copyright August 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.
If you are an author, you know this, we don’t just write a book and query agents or publishers. We are entrepreneurs, hustling to compete in an oversaturated market. Beyond the ongoing creative process, you devote a lot of time and effort to marketing, interacting with your potential audience, avoiding controversial issues, and essentially walking on eggshells.
It’s hard to fathom how an artist of any kind can be both cautious and authentic and avoid controversial issues. Can you imagine Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain navigating their social media platforms? It would be hilarious.
Doing any of the above, let alone all of it requires an extraordinary amount of motivation. Considering this, I often wonder what others think and dream about while assessing their goals and struggling to achieve them.
I had decided, before second grade, I wanted to help people “escape” if only for a while. I dreamt of making fantasies come to life while delivering messages of love, kindness, and hope. Ten years later, I wanted a mansion, fancy cars, and a full staff. I clipped an article titled “What to Do with Your First Million” and followed its advice to live as if I was already there. I found the celebrity hotspots and frequented them while remaining unfazed. I went for the expensive champagne. My father dared to suggest I become an advertising copywriter. I told him I would not waste my talent to sell bottles of soap and junk like that.
Being twenty-something also presented what seemed like easy opportunities to model or marry up, along with opportunities to break into print on someone else’s terms. In my estimation, these “opportunities” were not easy if I had to invest in something that had nothing to do with my ruling passion or something in conflict with that passion. It seemed a colossal waste of oh so precious time and energy to continually nurture those things.
My opinions, needs, and wants have changed over the years, as I’m sure is true for many. People take different roads, and the one I stumbled onto was the longest route possible. It had to allow for interminable growth and healing.
Some may remember the vision boards of the 90s. What I might have put on those boards at seventeen and twenty-one wouldn’t be on there now. Yeah, a bigger, better place is always great. I like a lot of space. I realized, though, I could be happy anywhere that is reasonably comfortable, and I’m happy with what I have. I don’t need a lot of money to do what I want in life. I’m already doing it. I love what I do and feel privileged to share it with anyone. (I’m talking about writing fiction now, not blogging, which I hate.)
Of course, it’s not a bad thing to want money. We have to want it. It pays the bills, gives you security. You can eat. It puts you in a position of being able to give it to people who need it. It allows you to pursue things you want to pursue. So yes, if anyone wanted to hand me a million dollars, I’d take it.
Being motivated to hustle and sell is another story. Caring about having that bestseller or how many books you’ve sold requires that hunger I had at seventeen and twenty-one. Yes, we all want it, but you may need to move a few mountains to get it and can’t be too lazy about that.
It’s seems easy enough to pretend to be what everyone wants and say all the things people want to hear so that you can sell a gazillion books, right? I know the sort of things I’d need to say and do in that regard and yet still find it impossible. I’m sure I am far from alone in that.
If what I contribute to the world has the best possible impact on someone, it’s well worth it to me. So, yes, every time another person reaches out to express his or her appreciation, it’s hard to want more than that.
The motivation to provide an escape, make fantasies come to life and deliver messages of hope in this bizarre world, remains. Far as that goes, I have come full circle, back to my childhood heart.
Above all, however, writing is the ultimate refuge. In constantly feeling the world’s pain, individually and collectively, that, too, becomes part of the motivation. Writing, for me, is that comforting place. Even those who write dark literature would agree that what horror they write pales in comparison to real world horrors. We want those blessed intervals of complete, total control of what is happening, and what happens next. We can delude ourselves, but more often, we share the suffering, the healing through a process of grief, and sometimes we fix the broken in ways we can’t do in life.
For these reasons, writing consumes me. It leaves me with little time to nurture more than a handful of relationships or to build what others have. At times, I feel a sense of loss, and then I remember that I created all I had ever wanted—a peaceful existence where I could write and share and then spend precious hours with people who mean the most. I’ve come to treasure that, along with life’s simple things.
I may have to kick it into high gear, but it helps to understand what drives you.
© Copyright June 25, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.
As I read Peter Cottontail to my son for the third or fourth time, feeling a bit tired, I bungled a line.
He said, “No, mommy, he lost one shoe amongst the cabbages and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.”
Yes, that is important! I hugged him dearly for that.
It was quite an improvement from six months earlier when he ripped Alice in Wonderland to shreds.
I wanted to be a relaxed, nurturing parent. I did not want to raise my son in a palace of dangers. I childproofed. I permitted him to take books from the bookshelves, sit in a pile of them and explore. When he tore up the book, that party was over. I had to tell him only once, because he knew already, I was reasonable and always for him, on his side. I taught him, we love books. We respect books. We read them. We enjoy them. We never destroy them, and we never crush the spirit of their creators.
The love affair with books began in my own childhood. I fell in love, first, with writing and reading. Writing is still the love of my life.
The fantasy genre inspired me – Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, fairy tales. It provided me with a much-needed escape from reality.
As I grew, the books I cherished most fit into the category of literary fiction, which is reality-based and generally more profound and philosophical. However, I never heard the term ‘literary fiction’ or all this talk about genres. Many people are still confused about it and have no idea what literary fiction is. I was confused myself.
I struggled to categorize my work. Yes, there is a love story. There are quite a few. There is a psychologically thrilling mystery. There are many of those. Yes, it is dark and intense with elements of gothic fiction and quite a bit of horror, but the ongoing saga does not revolve around any particular theme. Do you know why? It is literary fiction.
Literary fiction is pretentiously termed ‘serious’ fiction, though that could be misleading. It indicates a profound work with literary merit, a celebration of language, a critically acclaimed classic. However, genre fiction can also be poetry in motion and a work of art worthy of acclaim.
If I have to answer as to whether I am working on ‘serious’ fiction, well if it means painstaking torture, yes, I am quite serious, and this is as serious as it gets.
The well-constructed plot in literary fiction should be riveting, but it is not the focus. Literary fiction has a slower pace with many rewards for your patience along the way.
It is character driven with well-developed, introspective characters. The story is about the character’s journey. We become emotionally involved in his or her reality, the struggle, the challenges, the losses and triumphs. We glimpse into the character’s psyche, experiencing the love, the hate, the joy, and the pain. Works of literary fiction are good human-interest stories that move and inspire those of us fascinated by the human condition. Genre novelists can create deep characterization, but this is the hallmark of literary fiction.
Literary fiction defines some of the best books ever written: Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Rebecca, Little Women, 1984, Brave New World, Anna Karenina and many Shakespeare tales. The list goes on. My favorite authors, including Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, wrote literary fiction in classic Victorian-style, which I love with all my heart.
I believe creative work in every category has potential for greatness. I have yet to find a genre unworthy of respect. I don’t think we should make fun of people for enjoying some nonsense book or series where the writing isn’t up to par. As professionals and critics, we may seek a certain quality, but I am of the opinion, if there is a mass audience for a book or series, and it made scores of people happy, it has earned its place in the world of literature. I am simply another writer in an endless sea of writers and one of billions of readers. It doesn’t matter whether I like it. Readers, by consensus, have the final word.
Here is the bottom line for those of us who share this passion: books are a treasure. I feel fortunate in a world of books. I am infinitely grateful. I am giddy with delight. This is our inspiration, our high, our bond. There is plenty of room for everyone, and I am beyond thrilled to be on this journey.
I would love to hear from you about what you love to read or write. In the meantime, enjoy these videos as part of my celebration of literary fiction with an appreciative nod to all genres.
© Copyright August 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction of text permitted without permission.
I wake up at 4 a.m. every day, including weekends and holidays, and write for hours. It starts with nothing more than a 40-watt amber-shade lamp lit in the darkest hours, where I can see the moon outside my window. The focus is so intense, it is light before long.
Creating characters and the worlds they live in began as a childhood obsession. I wrote down names then added descriptions, developing their stories by continuing to add details. I had no idea why I did this at the time. My parents worried for a while. They relaxed a bit as I went on to write fairy tales and poems. When I wrote my first novel at 16, I used parts of those descriptions.
I held many jobs since then – secretary, assistant book manufacturing representative, assistant to casting director, computer system administrator, and paralegal/legal assistant. One summer, I was shooting photos for a model’s portfolio. Another day I’d be chatting with musicians about putting a band together. My ego was insatiable, so I was all over the place, wanting to do everything. I told myself, all I want to do is write while getting sidetracked at every turn.
Life went on, rife with challenges, full of adventures. I roamed the darkest corners to learn about the world and about myself. Setbacks knocked me down. I would get up eventually and find my way again.
More and more so, I began telling my story in the novels I wrote. I became so immersed in the reality of it, I would not steer off its course long enough to let my imagination truly come alive. I started over several times until I realized I didn’t sign on for this to tell my story. A storyteller can tell any story she wants, and so I was back on track.
To be fair, I learned about the book publishing process working in publishing. I chased down literary agents, got a press kit, and formed a writer’s club. I continued to educate myself about writing. I subscribed to the relevant publications. I contributed to an anthology, had letters published. There were assignments and proposals I turned down wanting to be true to myself and to the integrity of my work. I was devoted to mastering my craft.
I realize, too, I’d been busy healing. It was necessary for me to find the courage to free myself of belief systems that kept me in bondage. Until we fully heal, we remain in bondage to something or another and prone to all kinds of obsession. Disentangling from all that is a painful process and a lot of work but well worth it. Past turmoil is the baggage we can carry forever or make lighter and less cumbersome by checking it.
Perhaps it’s different for everyone, but the process is the same. It is discovering what you do not want nor want to be; who or what impedes you; who and what strengthens you. Learning to trust your instincts is essential. If I couldn’t do that as a human being, I surely could not do it as a writer.
In the healing process, I got a much-needed downsizing of ego. I went from “needing” attention to shying away from it with a reluctance to put myself out there. I am a firm believer that when it comes to extremes, neither extreme is right. It had to be somewhere in the middle. It’s been all about balance for me.
Becoming a parent along the way helped. It is a rare and unconditional love, and love of that magnitude motivates you to be the best person you can ever hope to be. It lifts you out of victimhood and allows you to live as the empowered hero in your own heart and to set the example.
Today I feel the greatest gift I have to give anyone is a true and genuine heart. That means questioning my intentions and, if necessary, correcting my steps.
Now, with a clear view of the story I want to tell, I’ve been busy incorporating my past novels into a series that could be six to eight books and possibly more. I have outlined and drafted the series and am in the process of finalizing.
© Copyright July 14, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.