Geeze, I just got an email from my editor. I got taken to the woodshed and put in my place. I love the guy. He’s honest. In the process, I got a lesson in writing and a lesson in life. As a writer I use a lot of things as tools to make a point or polish some sort of issue I have. The life lesson is do not trash another person’s values simply to enhance your plot or maybe just your illusions. The value we are talking about here is the United States Navy. Most of the men who served in the Navy value it highly and rightfully so. The same way I value the men I flew with over a forty year period. To trash the institution of the navy in order to provide a drug experience that was mostly about highlighting my writing skills was stupid, insensitive and potentially, it was a way to alienate a whole portion of the male population for stupid reasons. There may be writers of infinite skill out there, me, I need a team. Well, that’s just the surface. Now I have to re-read my whole book for the umpteenth time only to find out that mostly, I suck. But, if you value the truth, you have to face it. So I’m back in the woodshed, I have a different point of view and I am moving forward. Good luck to me
So, another book in the pipeline. Why is rereading your own work such an emotional process? In my case it’s pretty simple. I take people from the past and use their memory to people my book. Being a white man, how do you get into the head of a girl from forty years ago and portray her as she really was? How do you get into the head of a black man in that same time frame and do him justice. When that same man was someone you respected greatly and who was someone who was thirty years older, an entire generation older? Do you run with the images you have in your head? Do you go with political correctness. What if you are wrong in your view of his view? In my case you stick your neck out. And you soon realize how dangerous that can be.
My editor is also a content evaluator. He is a navy man and was appalled at how I portrayed navy life. He straightened me out and thankfully so. Given something like that, where do you get the gall to portray how a woman or a black man might perceive the world? Take your shot, take your criticism and learn. I guess you can invite other people into the creative process, along with their biases. What I think is important though, is to let those people correct you on facts. As a writer, emotions, hidden realities are probably more important than facts. Succeed or fail on your insight and intuition, correct your facts, live with the result. Probably sink into insignificance in the process. Remember, the world needs more truck drivers, they get paid every week.