Monday, February 27, 2012

Oiling the creative hinges

Every time I complete a manuscript, I either like it or no one sees it. If I like it, I’ll always have a soft spot for it. It’s like having another baby. You ask yourself, how can you love the next one as much as you’ve loved the previous one? Mothers know and trust that they will.

Writers don’t have that kind of instinctual backup. That bit of insecurity spurs us on to keep topping ourselves, not by being outrageous, but by being better: better at language and better at drafting a coherent, exciting, substantive read for our buyers and our followers to come. We are not required to break guitars or burn up a stage. Our challenge is to speak to the hearts of our readers and hook our editors and reviewers to keep them turning the pages.

So how do you stay creative, fresh and productive?

I’ve found I usually write a funny book followed by a more serious book. Kill Fee is a funny book, made funnier by that crime-fighting foul-mouthed fowl, Bilgewater. He has no boundries. To discover a character like him is a gift. He came naturally, born through the plot. Penny had a series of boyfriends before the story opens. One of them left Bilgewater as a consolation prize. The Indian Hill Mynah is known for his foul, inappropriate language that can burst forth at the most inconvenient times. They also, have a much better vocabulary than the African Grey Parrot. When he popped into my head, I was creatively bless and greatly amused.

These creative spurts keep me interested. If we writers aren’t happy with what we write, the writing becomes tired, flat, and lacks dimension. I’ve seen that happen with some well-known modern-day writers. (I blame their finger-snapping agents begging for series stories.) I don’t envy those under the gun.

Branding-wise, there is always a serious issue as well as fun in my books. The focus is on the characters and their needs. How they satisfy their quests drives the plot. Whom did they meet along the way? You know my heroes and heroines will meet the perfect mate eventually, but when? At some point I give them the wheel. “Getting there is half the fun.”

Love what you do, and it will love you back—creatively.

Julie Eberhart Painter is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and Kill Fee. See Julie’s Web site at


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Really enjoyed your post, Julie. That's so true about loving our characters and what we do.

Rhobin said...

You are right, Julie, you have to love what your are doing. I find inspiration comes from the strangest places, and unusual happenings, and I would hate an agent or publisher pressuring me to write. I know that I have to write for myself if the story is to have any interest for readers.

Unknown said...

So true Julie. If I don't believe in and love the book or story I'm working on, how can I get anyone else to love it? I like what you said about switching out funny with serious. I tend to do that too. Though, recently, I finished a serious project and had trouble finding my "funny legs" when I started in on the next romantic comedy. Sometimes, it takes time to find that voice again.

January Bain said...

Ya got to love what you do!!!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Thank you, all for taking the time to read and remark on my post.