June 28, 2011

Making Magic Happen (Guest Post by Lisa Schroeder)

In January, 2010, I was about to work my last day at the day job I had worked for five years. A number of things had happened that made this feel like the right decision. But then, a week or so after my last day at the day job, we got word that my editor at the time didn't think the project proposal I had sent her was good enough to be published. And another book we'd sent out to publishers had been rejected enough times that it was time to face reality - it wasn't going to be published.

My back was up against the wall. I needed to sell a book - writing was my job now!

I let myself feel bad for a few days. And then, I prayed for inspiration, something I do often, actually. But the difference is that here, even now, when things looked so bleak, I believed it would come and I would find the story I was meant to write. I was scared, but it didn't feel hopeless, if that makes sense. I knew what I had to do was find a story I could get lost in. I needed to forget about the business side of publishing, as much as I could, and just focus on story.

This time, inspiration came via The Grammy award show the first weekend in February. Specifically, this performance by Pink:


Somehow, I hadn't heard the song "Glitter in the Air" before. The next day, I downloaded the song and listened to it over and over the next few days. The song is just so incredibly beautiful, and speaks of so many things: Fear, uncertainty, loneliness, and love, to name a few.

One line in the song caught my attention more than any other: "Have you ever wanted an endless night, lassoed the moon and pulled that rope tight?"

I love that image!! She's saying - please don't go, moon, I don't want this night to end.

And I started thinking about the feeling of desperation two people might feel in not wanting the night to end. So that led me to brainstorm reasons why a teen girl might not want the next day to come. It took a while, to figure it out, but I finally did, and I began to write a book that I knew now was going to take place over a 24-hour period of time, which scared me. Because, it's not an easy thing to do! How do you keep tension going while creating scene after interesting scene in the span of such a short amount of time?

I'm very much a pantser when I write - that is, I let the characters and story lead me along and I discover things as I write. I didn't know exactly who Amber was going to meet as she made her way to the beach, just that she would meet someone. And then, at the aquarium, which is an actual place I've visited, she meets a boy who is as enthralled with the jelly fish exhibit as she is.

Jelly fish are pretty magical. Have you ever stood for a long time, just watching them? They are almost hypnotic. It was at that point, I think, where the story took over. When Amber met Cade met and had their connection, I knew then I was in it for good. I was now writing a story I would finish and I was really excited about it. It felt good. It felt right. And yes, like the jelly fish they watched, it felt magical.

But I didn't tell anyone. I just wrote. I needed to keep everyone out and just let it be me, Amber and Cade. After you've written many books, the expectations people have for you can be debilitating. Sometimes even paralyzing! I couldn't let anything get in the way of this story. So I kept it to myself, and I didn't let myself feel bad about that. Do what you have to do, I say!

I finished a draft in about six weeks. Toward the end, I had a few marathon writing days. Music was playing, words were flowing, and I simply couldn't leave the story. It's what writers long for - days like those!

The Day BeforeIt can be really hard sometimes, to keep the business part of being an author separate from the creative part. But this book reminded me how important it is to do that. I had to shut off the noise of the outside world, and more importantly, the voices in my head telling me I was in deep trouble. What if I never wrote anything ever again that was marketable, I heard in my head on more than one occasion. I had to tell that voice to shut the hell up.

Magic probably won't happen when writing from a place of fear or worry or doubt. Magic happens by sitting down, opening your heart, and trusting that story, above all else, is the most important thing. Find the story. Fall in love with the characters. And write.

Interestingly enough, one of the themes that emerged from the book was one of fear, and not letting it get the best of you. If I had let fear get the best of me, THE DAY BEFORE would never have come to be. I now understand those other projects were rejected for a reason. Why? So I would find my way to this story. I'm so thankful now for those rejections!!!

And I'm really, REALLY excited to share the story of THE DAY BEFORE with all of you! I hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thanks, Sab, for having me here to share the story of how THE DAY BEFORE came to be.

Thank YOU Lisa! You always inspire me so much. 
THE DAY BEFORE is out in stores TODAY! Believe me, you dont want to miss this one! :)

1 comment:

  1. I just love this post and I am going to buy this book! Lisa, thanks for sharing your struggles with getting just the right story and how you were inspired. I feel inspired just reading your story. On a day that has seemed bleak and a WIP that seems so far from finished, I can now sense some hope.


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