According to Dan Brown every good thriller begins with a big promise to the reader. I learnt that in his Masterclass. The promise that at the end of that thick-ass paperback, you’ll find out who the murderer is. The same class also taught me that the tools of good-thriller-writing can be applied to regular writing. Meaning: the writing about our everyday scaries rather than psycho murder. To make it more compelling, to make it good. So, here’s my promise to you, the reader: I promise I won’t scare the shit out of you. It’s truth before thrills. And I’ll make a second promise too -
(See what I did there? Now you have to read on to find out what that second promise will be. Thanks, Dan.)
If you feel that anything titled ‘How to’ is the beginning of a long spiral downwards into despair and self-doubt, then I feel you. I have been meaning to publish my writing for over a year now. I’ve been writing my novel for three. Unfortunately the big promise I made (to myself) was to first learn ‘how to’ be good. And I still haven’t figured out ‘how to’ be that. Well, here’s the thing: Wether or not my writing is good is something I’ll never know (I can picture Dan Brown gently knodding from his studio lit leather chair). Because I’m not just writing one short story, essay, one novel - I’m writing (if I’m lucky) hundreds (and in case of Dan Brown, it would be thousands but who are we kidding). It depends on how many you are. Everything I publish will be read, felt and experienced by each reader in an entirely different way. The protagonists will look different, the narrator will sound different. Some of you will have sexy, husky voices, some of you will sound shrill. You might have a really nice inside-laugh. Or a squeaky one. Some of you will read so fast that I can’t keep up. I’m just imagining trying to catch up with you know as I type this… None of this makes publishing my writing less daunting, but -
Promise #1 is not to be a thriller. I promise not to make you feel crippling anxiety at the realisation that you really don’t know ‘how to’ do anything. I am writing things on the premise of a mutual understanding between me and you (my dear reader). This premise is that **we are all fellow fools**. We are bundles of atoms in a boundless universe. Made from dinosaur dust. We live messy and imperfect lives. And if you’re committed to embracing that, there’s nothing more brave in life. Most days I wake up and don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. So here you don’t have to know ‘how to’ do anything. And just when you read this here’s everyday-anxiety creeping up on you. And hitting you unconscious with a reality-batton. So I may have just broken my first promises and some of this will be scary. Sorry, Dan.
I told you I’ll make two promises:
Promise #2 is to never be true to my intentions. My stories will stay incomplete. Because I am incomplete. I am conflicted. These words are pieces of a puzzle that I have been trying to assemble for almost 30 years. In the hope they would somehow connect to create that _big picture_ that will reflect the meaning of my life. This puzzle is made up of all these pieces, each one of them is one of my own humble experiences of the world. I promise not to be true to my intentions because if I created the complete picture from all these pieces, it would be boring.
The reason why I write because every time I begin to assemble the puzzle and find the connections in all these pieces, they create an entirely different image. Of the world. Of myself. And sometimes the negatives make the better picture.
I promise not to stay true to my intentions. Unless the intention is truth. So, I might have just broken both of my promises to the reader. Again: Sorry, Mr Brown.