Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chapter 11: Writing fiction is not for sissies

Today I began chapter 11 of book 4 (still untitled).  Here's an excerpt from the writing I did before the writing:

Okay, this chapter scares the hell out of me.  Is this how it's going to go now, scared every chapter?  Yes, probably.  Because here's the rub--you are falling fast now (momentum is a good thing) into the dark, meaty depths of Huntington's Disease with the O'Briens.  You know this family now, and you like them, and bad things are happening to people you care about.  What they are about to face is hard and heartbreaking and cruel and scary, and you have to go there with them.  And not only that, you can't go there with any armor on.  You can't go as a tourist.  You have to be as vulnerable as possible, holding their hands, hugging them while they cry.  You're going to cry, too.  And while we're all exposed and suffering together in the dark, it will be your job to keep an eye open for the pinholes of light, moments and words and spaces where there is the possibility for hope and inspiration, change leading to deeper love and connection and meaning despite this horror.  So deep breath.  Here we all go.

And that led me into chapter 11.  Writing fiction is not for sissies.

This also reminded me of a quote from "From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction" by Robert Olen Butler:

"You have to go down into that deepest, darkest, most roiling, white hot place….Whatever scared the hell out of you there--and there's plenty--you have to go in there; down into the deepest part of it, and you can't flinch and walk away.  That's the only way to create a work of art."


  1. When you write about your writing experiences like this, it really helps me visualize the writing process and how I can expect to feel as I get into a story. When I read how inside the dark places you have to find the "pinholes of light" and "possibility of hope and inspiration," it reminded me of your other stories, especially Still Alice, in which you do go there and shine on the moments of hope, which made the story inspiring. Thank you for sharing your insights into writing

  2. Yes, yes, YES! You so beautifully describe the process. Thank-you

  3. beautiful Lisa :-)
    love you :-)

  4. As one who has nursed a granddaughter through JHD unti her death at age 17, I look forward to reading this book. It is so very important to educate and inform about Huntington's Disease, and I hope your book will do just that. Thank you for writing about this monster of a disease.

  5. Love that you are writing about writing. Hats off to someone who has the courage to tackle difficult subjects head on.