Thursday, December 26, 2013

Guest Post by Robert DiGiacomo, author of The Boxed Angel

Today's guest post is by author Robert DiGiacomo, author of The Boxed Angel. His post is about how he started writing and how he thought it was going to be easy! Enjoy!

Guest Post by Robert DiGiacomo, author of The Boxed Angel

I started out writing as a hobby. I don’t have any education in English, journalism, or any writing workshops (other than High School which I nearly failed out of). I am, or I think I am a good story teller. I enjoy bringing all my life experiences into conversation with others. I have always seen the lighter side of things and mostly have humorous outlooks on any situation. 

Because I have no education or had any knowledge of the writing process I had to start with bare bones. I grew up in a middle class family. My father is the son of immigrants and he had no higher education either, in fact he didn’t speak English until first grade. My greatest teacher was my father; he had the knack to instill values in me that I did not realize until much later in life. To his credit he never gave up on my lax attitude. Two things of the hundreds of lessons he taught me that have stuck in my head, are “You never get something for nothing” and “Hard work is the only way to succeed”

When I first started writing, I thought “How hard could it be? Every one writes, I’ve read dozens of books and there are thousands of authors out there.” After I had written a few chapters, I gave them to my father. He said that my story would be so much better if I knew how to write. I said I thought I did. He cocked an eye at me and referred back to his old school roots. “Son you must first learn to do something before you can do it properly. If you want to know how, chances are that someone has already written about it.”

I thought it would be easy and I could just do it. But as he always said, something for nothing never happens. So I set off to do the hard work first. I read everything there was available at the library and the book stores on “How to Write Fiction” I also read as many books in my genre that I could get my hands on. It still wasn’t enough. I began to read additional genre’s and discovered there are a lot of great books out there along with a lot of crappy ones. The more I read the more I felt like I was reading the same books over and over again.

Two authors had stuck out for me. H. Rider Haggard and Rachel Field. These two writers had completely different genres. I loved them both. I thought if I could combine the sensitive style of Field to the mystery suspense of Haggard I could write something different. Something that won’t bore the reader, male or female, juvenile or adult. I had written nearly a hundred thousand words before I set out to give it to someone to read again. This time everyone understood what I was saying, how the story worked and they could see the scene’s and feel the tension and the atmosphere.

But I wasn’t convinced; I needed the opinion of a professional, so I sent it out to be critiqued.

It nearly crippled me.

I had put so much hard work into my story and to see it get beat up was a little frustrating. All of their comments were about prose and grammar and viewpoint etc. (All the things I have no education in). They had seen a great story and they said I should not stop. They had offered great advice and yet I was still not smart enough to understand it all.

I referred back to my father…he wouldn’t read it. He said when you have learned to do it properly you won’t need my opinion, you will know.

It was a daunting thought, to have to rewrite my whole manuscript? I ended up reading a lot more about prose and developing characters and deleting scenes and adding new ones. I worked harder than ever. It took a long time to get it right. All the books I read said that I should have a set time to write every day, but I had a family to support, a business to create and time was a commodity I had little of. In the end I trudged through it and finally was able to produce a manuscript that I was proud of. In my opinion it still has an amateurish feel, but my readers all love it and I guess that is what matters.

During the entire process of learning “How to Write” I have acquired a bit of an addiction, I can’t stop thinking about stories to write. I still don’t have a set time to write, but while driving I think of the next scene or how to change an existing one. I write when I can, but when I write, at least I know how to do it.

Well, except for grammar, I don’t think I will ever get it, (I’m sure there are mistakes above) thank God for editors.

Robert DiGiacomo

Robert DiGiacomo was born and raised in the Philadelphia area where his stories are set. He is an independent contractor on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia where he lives with his family. He is currently writing his second novel, a sequel to The Boxed Angel.

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