Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Guest Post with Daniela Sacerdoti: Writing From the Heart

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Daniela Sacerdoti to Once Upon a Series. She is the author of Watch Over Me and her second novel, Dreams, will be out in May.

Writing From the Heart

As a new writer, I’ve been faced with a choice: write from inspiration, following my heart, or trying to nail a successful book by giving the market what it’s looking for? It didn’t take me long to find the answer.

In the beginning, there were vampires: everybody wanted to write the new Twilight. Now it’s the Hunger Games, and everybody wants to write dystopian. In between, there were zombies and angels.

Problem is, when a trend is at its apex, it means it’s on its way out. The trick is to identify the next big thing, and write accordingly.

Is it?

I don’t think so. Not for a minute. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight wasn’t a cynical exercise: she wrote from the heart, weaving her dreams and her religious beliefs into a story that was innovative, and in its use of traditional folklore figures, entirely original. Millions of readers all around the world believed in the story, because Stephenie believed in it first.

Any reader, young or old, will know by instinct if the writer believes in her story or not – if she’s truthful with it. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by the stories written and published all around us – Twilight and the Hunger Games have bred a whole flood of books whose authors are genuinely moved by the scenarios depicted in those books. Far from being pale imitators or cynical market-followers, these writers have their imagination brought to life by the stories they inspire themselves to.

But those who sit at their desk planning a bestseller – the next Hunger Games, the next Shiver, the next this or the other, will fail. A cynical exercise in market taming, orchestrated by a skilled writer and an even more skilled editor, and aided by clever marketing, will only reach so far.

Because readers will know.

Readers like you and me, whatever our background, whatever our knowledge of literature or our education, will instinctively feel if a story comes from the heart and soul of the writer. Human beings are experts in stories – we’ve been telling them since time began, translating our reality, our fears and our desires into symbolic tales and quests. Fairy tales, epic poems, and more recently, novels, channel the souls of whole communities, and capture the spirit of the times. These stories aren’t only the product of their individual writers, but the product of our collective subconscious; writers seem to be able to channel them.

The ability to channel what the times are trying to tell us is an innate talent that comes rarely, and cannot be imitated; and the courage to dig deep into our souls, to really and truly bare our innermost fears and secrets to the readers, is even rarer. It can’t be reproduced artificially, it can’t be the product of a cynical exercise.

Writers must bare their souls, even when it’s painful. We must listen to the times we live in, listen to the voice of the community and the voice of the world, and dig deep, deep into our personal history. If that process guesses the trend and comes out with a best seller, good for us – if it doesn’t, at least we’ll have produced something we can be proud of.

Thank you Daniela for visitng us today with such a great guest post. I definitely agree that readers will know if writers are just striving to write the next best thing rather than something that they really care about.

If you would like to stalk Daniela, you can find her at her website and on Twitter.

About the Author

Daniela Sacerdoti is a mother and a writer. Born in Naples, but brought up in a small village in the Italian Alps, she lives near Glasgow with her husband and sons. She steals time to write when everyone has gone to bed, or before they wake up. She’s a Primary teacher, but she chose to be at home with her children. She loves being with her boys, reading anything she can get her hands on and chatting with her girlfriends. But she also adores being on her own, free to daydream and make up stories.


Joanna Gawn said...

I wholeheartedly agree. I could no more write something 'not from my soul' than I could swim across the Atlantic in two days.

I loved Watch Over Me, and Dani's soul-based writing is one of the reasons why. It's a book whose mood and heart has stayed with me, even though I've read other books since.

Great post, thanks.

Chrissie (Once Upon a Series) said...

Hi Joanna! Thanks for visiting :)

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