February 11, 2015

The Benefits of Passion

By Lisa Turner

What does it takes to build a fast boat, or design a dress that falls just so on the hip, or to write a song that makes people close their eyes and sway? What does it take to make a reader turn the page? Besides talent and endurance, they take crazy, sold-out passion. 

For me the journey began with simple curiosity. A story had been chasing around in my head, so I wrote ten pages and discovered a humbling truth. My lifetime of reading had not automatically translated into a grasp of the art of fiction. I was surprised, disappointed, a little angry, but I didn’t quit with those pages. I read broadly on the subject and continued writing. The steps in Christopher Vogler’s handbook The Writer’s Journey played out in my life over the next several years.

In Vogler’s terms, writing the first ten pages became my inciting incident. I was on a quest that required tools(books on craft and writing seminars) and mentors. I had multiple dark moments when I wanted to walk away. Eventually I returned from the journey with the prize—two successful novels and a third manuscript well underway. A book contract is a coveted reward, but for me the benefit was the passion I had developed for storytelling. Writing centers my life. Let me explain.

Number one.  I’m never bored. My world filters through the lens of craft. At a dinner party, I study the way people tilt their heads or hold their wine glasses by the stem. Everyone gathers at the table and the host throws out a question. “What’s the worst thing you’ve done in your life?” His wife comes back with, “You already know my worst thing.” Conversation stops. Believe me, I write that stuff down.

Number two. The patterns governing storytelling—the three-act structure, echoes of theme, set-ups and payoffs, and the gap between reality and expectations—influence everything I do.  A plate of food is sweet and sour, a mix of textures, vibrant colors, and the surprise of spice I bury in the dessert at the end. A cheeseburger is easier, but I’m happier with my storytelling results.

Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” He’s ancient, but so modern. And so right.
Born in Memphis, Lisa Turner is a Southern mystery author whose first novel, A LITTLE DEATH IN DIXIE (2010), topped Amazon’s best sellers list. Her second novel is entitled THE GONE DEAD TRAIN. Her mysteries coil the roots of Southern identity around her characters then push them to the edge. She travels between her ancestral home in the Deep South and her writing haven on the wildly beautiful coast of Nova Scotia. Website: 

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