Begin with Knowing

A successful writing career begins with knowing.

I’m not talking about knowing the market–What’s in? What’s out? What are the taboos? Where are the holes I might fill?—though knowing the market is certainly useful.

What I’m talking about and what is far more important for a successful writing career is knowing ourselves.

Not knowing in negative western psychological terms, the kind that concentrate on naming dysfunction:  “I’m a narcissist with a touch of megalomania.”  We need access to our own deepest energy.  We need an understanding of its origins.  Because that’s where our strongest stories lie, that place where our longing lives, our struggles, our unrequited loves, our grief.

That’s the place our fiction come from, of course.  We all know that.  But it’s where our best nonfiction lies, too.  The topics we can explore most successfully will be the ones that touch into our own energy.  They are the information we seek for our own understanding, the facts we gather and retell to sooth our souls.

This is true not only with the complex stories we gather for adults and for older children.  It is true even for the topics we choose for the very young.  For my first non-fiction books for young readers I proposed a series on weather.  Wind, Clouds, Snow, Rain. clouds

I didn’t come up with the topic because I had done my research and discovered that I could find many books on weather for older children but none for the very young.  I did do that research and found that to be the case, and I used that information when I proposed the series to the publisher.  That wasn’t, however, my reason for coming to the topic.  I stumbled upon the idea of writing a series about weather simply because I, a true Midwesterner, live in constantly changing weather.  And I love every manifestation of that change.  Seventy-five degrees and sunny day after day after day doesn’t represent the Good Life for me.

My Good Life is waking in the night to a thunder storm, watching fog wisp from the autumn valleys, stepping into the pristine silence of the first snow fall.  So when I turned to researching clouds and wind, snow and rain I was immediately enchanted.  The learning was fun.  The writing was fun.  And the small books that emerged captured a bit of my soul..

The results of my passion for weather turned into a series that has proven to have legs.  The first books came out in 2003, and they have done well enough that the publisher recently reissued them with redesigned covers.  And then asked for two more titles, Rainbow and Sun.

That’s the way passion works.  If I love my topic, truly love it, my chances of making my readers care about what I have written rise exponentially.

Of course, my love of a topic doesn’t guarantee that the manuscripts I create will sell, either to a publisher or to the public once they reach the marketplace.  But if I love what I’m learning, what I’m relaying, editors and readers are much more apt to love it, too.

Because love shows.

Credit: psymily | morguefile.com

Credit: psymily | morguefile.com

7 thoughts on “Begin with Knowing

  1. Anna Marie Black

    I’m responding to the credit captioned under the photo that follows your piece:
    Morguefile.com I have to wonder why you chose that photo, which suggests love, but also wonder what the truth behind that photo is. Morguefile implies death, and grief, and a myriad of emotions that might compel us to consider our own lives and what is passion for us.

    Reply
    1. Marion Dane Bauer Post author

      Hi, Anna Marie. Nice to hear from you. And a confession. I don’t choose the photos that accompany my blogs. My daughter does that for me. In fact, I don’t usually see them until they are posted. And I didn’t notice the credit. It is an interesting one, though, isn’t it?

      Reply
  2. Deb Miller

    Love does show—and I love this concept—that a book written out of passion always speaks louder—always—let me remember this in my own writing—let me not be swayed from my own passion about what I write—-thanks for this reminder—

    Reply

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