Thursday, February 22, 2007

Literary Bliss

by Kristine Coblitz

Last week I attended my first photo shoot for the local family magazine I write for. I have a cover story coming out in the March issue on local doctors who volunteer in other countries. I'm excited about the article, which will feature two chiropractors, a podiatrist, a gynecologist, and an optometrist. The publisher asked me to assist in gathering these doctors together so we could organize the picture for the cover. Let me tell you that getting five doctors in one place at the same time posed a bit of a challenge. The snow and ice storm, otherwise known as the Valentine’s Day Blast of 2007 in Pittsburgh, didn't make it any easier, and I prayed the roads would be clear enough so I wouldn't have to (gasp!) reschedule.

Thankfully, all the elements--including the weather--worked in our favor, and the photo shoot turned out to be a success.

In all my years of magazine-editing experience, the cover photos, which are usually of engineering or hydraulic equipment, are almost always supplied to the editorial office by the manufacturers, making my job a lot easier. As a result of this experience, though, I learned to appreciate the amount of effort that goes into the small details of putting together a magazine, and I'll never look at a cover the same way again. I've also experienced the sort of satisfaction that can occur when everything comes together, and for a writer, I find that to be a great feeling.

The same methods I used for organizing the photo shoot can be applied to how a writer approaches drafting a novel. You need a goal, which can be a particular date when you want your draft to be finished or a daily page quota. You need open communicate with your characters to make sure they will "show up" on the page to help you meet that goal. And you pray that all the elements you've been working on throughout the process (rising action, tension, plot points, etc.) won't fall apart and prevent you from accomplishing your goal. An expected storm or wrong turn in the writing process may hinder your path somewhat and make you question if you will in fact make it, but as a professional, you push on knowing that failure to meet the goal is not an option. When it all comes together and you reach your goal, it's nothing short of literary bliss.

The key word in the preceding paragraph? Goal. I repeated it five times for a reason. Formulating a goal is the first step in any journey and also the golden ticket.

We've all had moments of literary bliss. One of those moments for me happened when I finished my first chapter and actually liked it. Another one was when I got physical chills from a scene I wrote in my villain's point of view. As a writer, it's all about the details and those small bouts of satisfaction, isn't it?


Cathy said...

Between your post and Nancy's last one, I'm motivated to get on schedule and crank out the rest of this novel. The article about the doctors sounds very interesting. Did you take the pictures?

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have taken the photo (you all know how much I love taking pictures!), but a professional photographer did the job.

Anonymous said...

I love that heady feeling when the project comes together and your "baby" gets born. It makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?

Thanks for reminding me of how much it IS worth it, Kristine!