Making Your Unknown Known

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant—there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing—and keeping the unknown always beyond you…” – Georgia O’Keefe

Source: Georgia O’Keeffe on Success, Public Opinion, and What It Means to Be an Artist, in a Letter to Sherwood Anderson – Brain Pickings

Yesterday I was talking to my proofreader about my stories and my process of writing them, and it hit me.

I kinda don’t have one.

To me, naming my process from start to finish demystifies the whole craft of writing. I do have a schedule although some days, that schedule is eaten away by things other than writing, like checking and fine-tuning my ads, editing and revising existing work, and working out the kinks on the production of the ebook and paperback editions. I used to agonize over getting ARC readers for my upcoming releases but I’ve since learned that I can’t do everything and have finally delegated the task to someone else. Sometimes you just gotta write the book.

In my case, “writing the book” means listening to the voices characters inside my head. They tell me the story and sometimes I can write a 10,000-word story and then realize a week later that the wrong character is talking. It should be this person or that person instead. And so I start again, this time really listening to what she or he has to say because I kinda don’t start out knowing. I also do alternative chapters – what if this happened (Plan A) only to go with the second version (Plan B). It helps me get to know my characters better – and like Georgia O’Keefe says, “making your unknown known.”

Case in point is Gareth Roman, one of the main characters of Loving Ashe. He started out as a very minor character – someone discussed but never meant to appear in the story line at all – until he showed up at Riley’s coffee shop and ordered his favorite blended drink that she used to make for him.

And when he does something unforgivable, I couldn’t continue until I wrote his take on the incident. It was meant to be a dry run – like a writing exercise that I sometimes do on my own if I want to see through another character’s eyes – something that would help me have an understanding of what happened, but Gareth took hold of the reins and Barbed Wire, a short story was born.

Having Devin Paisley as my muse for Gareth certainly didn’t hurt.

Barbed Wire is one of three bonus stories for Loving Ashe and you can get the link to download it from Loving Ashe. I’d link it but it would be a terrible spoiler.

“He’s a bad man, a terrible man, and Gareth knows he’ll burn in hell for this, and he’ll take her with him if he has to.” – Barbed Wire

Loving Ashe is still free on all platforms though so if you’d like to download it for your e-reader, you can do so here.

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