Join us as Christopher Koehler goes Outside the Margins.
In April of this year, Dreamspinner called all of its authors to Portland (Oregon, not Maine). Dreamspinner does this, calling us to conventions. These are part group hug, part state of the publisher, part get excited about writing.
They also include challenges, these Dreamspinner shindies. I do not recall what I wrote down, probably something trite about another novel and maybe a short story, but for me, my challenge turned into so much more and yet it started before the meeting in April.
My challenge to myself is to write dangerously for a year.
How, you ask, does one writer dangerously?
I will explain how I will write dangerously. Only you can discover how you will write dangerously.
A month before the Dreamspinner confab, I submitted a book I called Poz, a novel about teens, risky behavior, and HIV. Rates of new infections of HIV are skyrocketing among our youngest and there is not a single excuse. Suggestions for reasons range from easing off on safer-sex education or fatigue with same to the perfectly nonsensical notion that the current crop of protease inhibitors are a cure. Cough cough bullshit cough cough.
Late in the fall of 2013 I ran the basic idea for Poz by Elizabeth North, the publisher of Dreamspinner, and she green lighted it. Poz started my year of writing dangerously.
Some writers are pantsters, meaning they write by the seat of their pants. Some are plotters, meaning the plot things out. I fall into that latter camp, and may in fact be the arch-plotter. I’ll spare you the gory details of my plotting, but it’s thorough. I have a plot structure that has served me well for five novels.
There was only one problem when it came to Poz. That structure bored me to tears. How could I shake it up and do something to get me back to how I felt when I wrote my very first m/m romance, Rocking the Boat? The writing of that book scared me to death. I questioned myself at every step.
I started writing Poz in deep first person and I had never been so afraid of writing a book in my life. It was magical! It was fantastic! It was the answer.
It filled me with doubt from beginning to end. I second-guessed myself with every word, every decision I made, but when you meet Jeremy “Remy” Babcock you will be right there inside his head with him as he navigates the shoals of high school, rowing (duh—it’s me), dating, and some very risky activities. I also hope you fall in love with him, because I did. Well, him and his eventual boyfriend Mikey “call me Michael, dammit” Castelreigh.
Two books will follow Poz: All That Is Solid Melts Into Air and Finding Solid Ground. You’ll hear more about them and writing to scare yourself in coming months.
So here is my challenge to you: write in a way that scares you. Take risks. They’re just words. They can’t hurt you.
If you’re not a writer (yet), why not try? I saw some Facebook posts in a conversation between writers and readers recently, and a number of readers said they had ideas, but they couldn’t possibly put them on (virtual) paper because they never came out right. How do you suppose most of us got started? We didn’t start out writing like this, that’s for sure. We threw our first million words out; I certainly did. It’s a tough slog, but believe me, there is nothing like it in this world or any other. Won’t you join me?
~ Christopher Koehler
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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