Write What You Love by Molly Cochran

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

legacy pbackPOISONSEDUCTION

The Forever Kingx200BROKEN_SWORD_1200third_magic_2100

Molly Cochran is the author and co-author with Warren Murphy of many amazing books, including the New York Times Bestseller and classic Arthurian novel THE FOREVER KING (as well as the sequels THE BROKEN SWORD and THE THIRD MAGIC).  If you liked T.H. White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, Mary Stewart’s CRYSTAL CAVES or Marion Zimmer Bradley’s THE MISTS OF AVALON, you’ll love Molly’s work.  And the best part is that she’s brought the Arthurian legends to modern day while still keeping all the historical feel and flavor.  The same goes for her Katy Ainsworth novels, set in a town in Massachussets run by witches where the young heroine discovers her very dark and dangerous legacy (LEGACY, POISON and SEDUCTION…and also her novella “Wishes”).  Really, you won’t want to miss Molly’s work…or her guest blog below.

WRITE WHAT YOU LOVE

                Write what you know. It’s the First Great Commandment of writing, and it’s true. You can’t write convincingly about Admiral Byrd’s expedition to the South Pole if you’ve never been cold. Unfortunately, that dictum has scared a lot of would-be novelists into writing only about their own personal experiences. That’s fine as far as it goes—provided your xperience has been so extraordinary that people who don’t know you will want to read about it—but that sort of extremely personal work, generally known as a coming-of-age novel, tends to be a one-shot deal. It’s nothing if not restrictive if you’re planning a career as a writer.

So a better mantra than write what you know might be, in my opinion, write what you love. What excites you? Baseball? Fashion? Paris? Whatever your passion, whether it’s knitting or speculating about the end of the world, your interest in the subject will breathe life into your work.

Writing what you know helps if what you know is something special. Patricia Cornwell, who writes so convincingly about forensic science, spent many years working as a medical examiner. Not surprisingly, Scott Turow and John Grisham, both lawyers, bring insider knowledge to their novels about corporate crime. But let’s be honest: How many jobs have you held that you would deem worthy of a novel?

Intimate and esoteric knowledge is the key to writing a work that stands out from the crowd, but that knowledge need not come from direct experience. In William Wharton’s bestseller Birdy, the protagonist is an autistic man who owns hundreds of birds. Obviously the author has an encyclopedic knowledge of these creatures, but it is his passion, not his knowledge, that allows him to write in a way that makes birds fascinating to the general public.

Think about the things you love to do—cooking, skateboarding, surfing, skiing, playing an instrument, dancing, video games . . . or the things you’d love to learn about—movies, dogs, design, magic, the music industry, the history of the town where you live . . . Those subjects are all fodder for possible bestsellers, founded on knowledge of your subject and ignited by your passion for it. That passion might even be for something that doesn’t exist. Anne Rice has made no secret of her obsession with the idea of vampires walking undetected among us. Whitley Strieber is clearly fascinated by the possibility of extraterrestrial aliens visiting earth.

In my own case, a lifelong interest in the legend of King Arthur has borne fruit in not one, but two books. Since childhood, I’ve read obsessively about Arthur Pendragon and the Knights of the Round Table. In grade school, I studied the clothing and architecture of Fifth Century Britain. I devoured tracts on sword making and medieval combat. T.H.White’s The Once and Future King and Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy were my bibles. The first time I saw John Boorman’s Excalibur, I thought I’d found my way to heaven.

So it was almost inevitable that one day I would write my own version of Camelot. In The Forever King, ten-year-old Arthur Blessing is unaware that he is the reincarnation of King Arthur of Britain until he discovers a cup that heals wounds and bestows eternal life—the Holy Grail, that brings with it great danger and the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. That book became an international bestseller, and I believe that much of its success was because I was so deeply invested in the subject that the novel reflected more than mere factual knowledge: It was filled with love.

That love carried over into a second novel, written much later. In Poison, I revisited the Arthur legend by reworking the character of Morgan le Fay into a feminist archetype that lent humanity to a woman who has been historically depicted as a villainess. In both cases, my passion for the subject drove both the story and the writing of that story, and as a result, both novels were deeply satisfying projects for me.

So if you’re thinking that you have to write another Divergent or Twilight to make it as a writer, think again. Writing a novel is a long, complex process. Copying someone else, no matter how successful that writer is, probably won’t work, because you can only put your heart into something you love.

And your heart will show, on every page., in every sentence. Love makes the difference. Write what you love.

Comments
  1. caithiseach says:

    Molly taught me this truth at a novel workshop a number of years ago, and the advice is paying off. Pay close attention to what she says.

  2. I love all of those…! So definitely adding this to Goodreads!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s