The title of this blog post gave me some trouble. I tried hard to come up with something clever and eye-catching in the hope people would be intrigued enough to read it, but nothing seemed to work. Part of the reason for this: I am deeply immersed in my sixth novel, Man With No Yesterdays; and my fifth novel, Memories of Jake, is in the hands of my Beta readers.
I don’t know about other authors, but when I have my head that far into a book (in this case, a two-book series) I think of little else. I try not to do this when I am driving, and I don’t do it when I’m giving voice lessons, because that’s also a passion. But I can wash dishes, run the vacuum, feed the cat, eat a meal, and not even be here. It’s great.
So that’s why I write. It still surprises me that being near the end of the “ten” part of “threescore years and ten” I have found this new passion that absorbs me. It’s even difficult for me to remember the first four novels in detail … particularly as I’ve worked on this two-book series over the past ten months. They’ve all been good stories which people have enjoyed reading, and I’m grateful for that. Even more, I’ve found that the ability to grow as a writer is exciting. Jamie's Children shows definite improvement from Eli's Heart. Memories of Jake is even better.
A Beta reader for Memories of Jake sent me a note yesterday: “By the way, this is a very engaging and well-written book. The characters come alive, and I had tears in my eyes a few times. It’s amazing how you spin the story out a little at a time, but everything is important and relevant and keeps the interest. You have artful descriptions that paint a picture, but you don’t overdo it. The dialogue is great, I think I’m watching a movie. Must be your background in theater. You know how to set up a scene!”
At that point she was up to Chapter 11, about a third of the way through the book. It was truly a thrill to hear these nice words, because it told me two things: 1) I had another good story for my readers, and 2) I was telling it better.
That “growing as a writer” comment reminds me how that was an important part of the process in directing a stage musical. Watching the show take shape and the actors, musicians and techies fall in love with what they were doing, making it their own, was the part of that job I enjoyed the most. When they took ownership of the production, I had done my work.
Teaching people to use their voices better is much the same process. I give them the tools to grow vocally and musically, but eventually it’s up to the student to learn to understand and to use them to get the best results. And sooner or later, some of them do “get it.” Those are the students who go on to perform, to teach, to find a way to be a part of the vocal arts.
Directing and teaching have both been passions and immensely satisfying. But writing gives me one thing more. For the first time, I am creating. These books are my work, they are who I am. And for the rest of my life I hope ─ no, I pray ─ that I am able to continue to write. Because it’s become as vital to me as breathing.
It’s nice when I sell a book. It’s nice when someone tells me they’ve read one and loved it. But I have found writing to be its own reward. I think I read that somewhere!
Please visit my website for more information and links to the Amazon book pages: www.susanmoorejordan.com