My boss doesn’t like writing. It shows in his pained, English-defying emails. He’s a great storyteller so it’s a loss for the world, but he just doesn’t have the chops to string more than two or three clearly written sentences together. That’s okay, he always has the phone (which he overuses) and, besides, his talent is closing a deal like only a hard-ass motherfucker can. Good for him.
“Writing is like hell for me. I never got the point of it. I can’t imagine writing a story without going insane,” he once said.
That’s a quote I won’t soon forget. Initially I chalked it up to a difference in culture. Only someone who doesn’t get “the artist’s life” could say something like that. My thinking was, he’s a conservative guy with good biz acumen, from a conservative upbringing (likely with good biz acumen). He just doesn’t get it. That’s okay. I don’t get Statements of Work.
But when I took a glance at my book’s outline, all mapped out in boobly bubbles, I got into his head uncomfortably deep and wondered if he’s right after all.
The image in this post is the chapter breakdown I did in bubbl.us
for A Knight Named Simo
n. Elements of the story loop around to other elements in some arcane (magic!) pattern. Frankly, it’s mad. Isn’t it? Wouldn’t any reasonable man take one look at that technicolor barf splat and ask, what’s this nonsense? I certainly did when I stumbled on the outline while reviewing story notes.
For a second, maybe less.
And then I followed the lines around and found myself telling the story again. I spotted weaknesses, references to plot points that need to be carried into book two… I found myself pleased that it made sense, and terrified that it made sense. I saw method to the madness, which implies that there is method — and there is madness.
So here’s to Greg, the Boss.
“Writing is like hell for me. I never got the point of it. I can’t imagine writing a story without going insane.”
Maybe you have to be nuts to even start.