May 15, 2011

Letting Go

I can't remember who sings that classic song "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do", and I'm too lazy to google it, LOL. But man oh man, I am thrilled at the new prologue and new first chapter of CHASING THE LION. It's been a long, ugly, painful process to let go of my original first chapter which failed in contest and against solid craft theory because of the following:

It failed to introduce the main character. (Granted, it alluded to him, was caused by him, but no cigar.)

It introduced a powerful romance that ultimately was not renewed. (Mega unsatisfying for the reader.)

Like an earlier post where I quoted the great bit of advice "When the third person tells you you're drunk, it's time to lay down," I finally laid down. I opened a blank word doc and stared at it for ten minutes. I had experimented with rewriting the beginning once before and tossed it in the recycle bin icon after three thousand words. But with the renewed purpose of a Spartan (more on this later) I committed to just putting one line down and saving. And then the one line was there. My fingers started moving as I read, in his own words, "My mother is a liar." I wanted to kiss my fictional twelve year old hero for telegraphing me a MUCH superior hook than the one in the chapter I fought so hard to keep. The rest was easy. Three thousand words later I had something I felt as passionate about as Livia and Cornelius's chapter. After days of polishing, it's better. It's just SOOOOOO much better.

It got me thinking about how often I had done that with God. With stupid, little things like friends I didn't need to keep, material things I thought I had to have until I got them, and a myriad of other things that clouded the only must haves worth clinging to and fighting for at all costs. Faith and Family.

The other thing I let go, well, decided AGAIN, lol, is I've got to break the book in the middle. CHASING THE LION I'm praying will stand alone and sell as a lead in to two other books that will complete it.

Book 2: CHARGING THE DARKNESS

Book 3: MOVING THE MOUNTAIN (If you recognize this from RMM... yes, it's what you think it is!)

Thus comprises the "Forges of Faith" Series. It's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

I  finished today, in the parking lot of Home Depot, the unabridged audio book GATES OF FIRE: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield. I do not have words to accurately convey what an incredible experience this book was. I would not have partaken of it except as a writer, because it was not a book I would read for pleasure. As all writers know, there are books you read to enjoy, and books you read objectively the way an architect views the work of another where most people see a pretty building.

GATES OF FIRE, as far as readers and books go, was a key that fit my lock perfectly. There was not a single human emotion that I did not feel at least once in that book. Rage, pain, fear, joy, sorrow, lust, pride, loss, hope, happiness, awe... everything. The work is absolutely brilliant. It is NOT for the faint of heart, I'm ready for some puppies and sunsets that's for sure. It is the SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, PASSION OF THE CHRIST, WE WERE SOLDIERS, and ROMEO AND JULIET all rolled into one. Yes, one. It is the novel that the movie 300 was based on. You know it even if you haven't seen it...

"THIS - IS - SPARTA!!!"

If I were an English teacher I would make GATES OF FIRE required reading. It wouldn't pass, but I would still try. I'm taking the $10 Barnes & Noble gift card I won on a writer's blog this week and picking up a hardback copy for my library so I can read it again someday for pleasure (though if you know this book, you know that is the wrong word entirely) or to be knocked down a peg by what incredible historical fiction, narrated well, organized well, richly characterized and painfully honest, what that kind of writing is really like. It's certainly something I aspire too.

So a little sneak peak at the new prologue quote to CHASING THE LION:

"Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. 
But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love." - Khalil Gibran 

And a link to GATES OF FIRE on Amazon if you want to check it out... or get it for my birthday. Totally kidding!!!

Gates of Fire

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