One of the great things about going to shows and various signing events is meeting people. I enjoy talking with fellow readers; listening to people’s stories and their connections to different types of stories and genres; pitching my stories to potential buyers; but, perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my events is meeting people as they spill out their passions – often about writing.
Case in point: in early July, I met a young lady named Skyy. The odds are that I will never meet her again, but I will easily recall her passion for writing and her eagerness to learn how to be a better writer. We had a good little chat before she moved on. Frankly, I don’t even recall whether she purchased one of my novels, though I believe she did. What I recall is her desire to someday turn out great works of fiction. If she works hard, I believe she will accomplish that goal.
At comic cons, there’s nothing like the cosplayers – especially the non-professional ones, the attendees. The attendees spend hours, or more, ensuring that they look just like the character they portray. At O Comicon in Iowa in July, I met a guy who spent three months working on his Buzz Light Year costume. That’s half the time I spent on Dead Dreams (not counting once we got to editorial revisions). That’s dedication, that’s … almost insanity.
That passion is what makes everything – not just makes it fun, but makes it. I don’t care if you collect stamps (although if that’s your passion, you’re probably not reading this blog – boo!), if you lack passion then it’s probably not worth doing. I’ve had people tell me they have a novel in their minds and they want me to write it. They recognize writing isn’t their strength, but they have a passion about the story locked in their heads.
If the field of novelist were limited to only the very best writers in the world, there would not be many. In fact, I would argue that some of the best authors aren’t the best writers; but, they are passionate about their vocations and they convey stories in such a way that make you want more. I’ve read more than a few top modern novelists who are not by any stretch “great” as writers, but they have the sales, the readers. Why? Perhaps without realizing it, readers feel their passion.
I’ve never been much of a salesman, but I can sell Children of the Sun and Dead Dreams. Why? I think you’re catching on to the main theme here. Children of the Sun is my favorite story of all my scripts and novel ideas. There is an extra copy lying on my kitchen counter, and from time to time I pick it up and read from different sections of the story. It’s a story that was in my head – at least certain portions of the story – since I was 13 years old. The setting alone (a small town which, in my mind, is my hometown, east of Kansas City, Missouri) brings back an avalanche of memories. I want to hold onto that story. There’s something about it that keeps me young… well, not when I try to get out of bed in the mornings, but keeps me young in my mind.
Dead Dreams takes me to a subject I love: dreams. The story is wrapped by an intricate group of relationships, all of which have open windows into the minds of the characters, and the entire story is wrapped again by multiple love stories (counting the love of the parents for their children). These are things to which most people can relate. For those of you who have read Dead Dreams, you probably didn’t think about it at the time, but now it may make a little more sense: you were sensing the passion of the author as you turned the pages. That is what makes a story gripping and enduring.
To change from reading to watching, actors are masters of passion. They understand that, when they dig into the character – when they cease to be (fill in the actor or actress’ name here) – and become the character, they reel you in. You forget the actor’s real name and believe that this person is indeed the character. That is a good actor. That is passion.
My third novel, which I intend to publish later this year, has no connection to my youth and no connection to anything which, on the surface, should seem to be passionate to me. Nevertheless, there is a passion for the story, for the characters, and for delivering to the audience a gripping experience. It’s a thriller, so I want you to turn that page. I want you to feel that tug. If it were a romance story… well, I guess I would want you to get the pages wet with your tears, I don’t know. Romance writing is not in my future.
That’s enough for this time. I hope you’re doing something about which you are passionate – whether it’s your career or in the evenings or on weekends. Without passion, life is rather dull.
For those of you I have met at events, thank you for coming out. Thank you for playing a part in my passion. I enjoy hearing about yours. Oh, and Skyy: keep writing. Keep working. It takes time.
Until next time, I remain…
Brian W. Peterson
Somewhere on the edge of the Great Plains