Thursday, May 03, 2018

Beginning a New Series

Tempe Public Library

I, Donis, started my Writer in Residence program on May 1 at the Public Library here in my hometown of Tempe, Arizona. Tempe is a town of about 140,000 people, not counting the students at Arizona State University (another 60,000). And yet Tempe only has one public library. No branches. Still, the one library is quite the establishment. It is incredibly busy and the number of events it sponsors is mind-boggling. The librarian in charge of events, Jill Brenner, is particularly interested in offering writing programs for the city, and judging by participation, these programs have been wildly successful.

I am Writer in Residence for this summer, May through July, when any locals who haven't left town to escape the heat are looking for some kind of indoor activity, because hiking or picnicking when it's 115ยบ is not fun. So I'll be available to consult one-on-one with aspiring writers for a couple of hours on the days I am in house, and I'm contracted to present six classes throughout the summer on some aspect of writing. All very lovely and well and good and charming, and I'm going to enjoy that.

I'm also supposed to write on my own book, and that is a lot more work. Especially considering that I'm working on the first novel in a new series. I've written ten Alafair Tucker novels over the past thirteen years. I know those characters like I know my own family. And now I've set myself the task of getting to know a whole new bunch of folks who are living their lives in a place and time that I have never written about before. I have crossed over a couple of characters from the first series, which is comforting. At least there's one person I know well in this new world! But it's exciting, as well, to move to a new state and start living among a new crowd.

But I'm a little anxious. How successfully am I going to be able to pull you into this new world, Dear Reader, and how willing are you to go along with me. In his book on writing, This Year You Write Your Novel, Walter Mosely said, “a novel is a collusion between the author and the reader.” The reader wants to walk in your character’s shoes, to believe in the world you’ve created, and you don’t want to let him down.

I’m often anxious and unhappy for much of a first draft. Why, I ask myself, isn’t this better? It seemed like such a good idea when it was still in my head.

Why do I put myself through it? I’m never sure I can pull it off, no matter how many times I’ve pulled it off before. But then there are those days, even while you’re struggling with the first draft, when you do hit the perfect note, or compose a passage so beautiful and true that it brings tears to your eyes. Ray Bradbury spoke truth when he said that real success comes when you begin to write from the inside, and not from the outside.

Besides, once the first draft is finished and you’re on to the second and third and however many more, world without end, it all starts to come together and you realize with a start that you’ve got something. Maybe that old mojo is working after all!

By the way, if you'd like to fly over to Tempe on your day off and sign up for a writer consultation with me or attend a class, you can find all the requisite information about the Writer in Residence program here.


Sybil Johnson said...

The Writer in Residence program sounds great. I was going to say very cool, but then it's not particularly cool where you are, is it? :-> Good luck on the new series.

Irene Bennett Brown said...

I'm looking forward very much to the new series. I read FORTY DEAD MEN a week or so ago, and enjoyed it to the hilt. As I have all of your books.

Donis Casey said...

Thanks so much, Irene! Going from you, that means a great deal! And Sybil, the WIR program is a cool, which is one reason I decided to accept the summer program. I definitely want to be somewhere air-conditioned from May through July.

Donis Casey said...

Not "going", Irene! That's "coming"! COMING from you.