A warm welcome to author Leigh Hershkovich, whose debut novel Shattered Illusions I really enjoyed! (Check out my review review here.) Today she will share how she wrestles with her writing self ... and comes to terms with the fact that this is simply her "truth".
Leigh is also giving away some copies of her book, so read on until the end and join in the giveaway!
A Writer's Truths by Leigh Hershkovich
|Pondering her "truths"|
When embarking on the journey of writing a novel, those truths multiply, and often times escalate out of control, until it is no longer possible to tell the difference between fact and fiction. I have been told by many people, famous authors included, that one can consider themselves a true writer if they are always writing. Cultivating and building a landscape for your story is one thing, but, writing is something of a different caliber altogether. Planning a novel does not make you a writer, it makes you a dreamer. Putting your thoughts to action, pressing the pen to paper (or in some cases, the finger to the keyboard) is what makes you "who you are." Writing does not have to be of the "novel" kind in order for one to consider themselves a true writer. It does not even have to make sense to anyone else in the world, but you. As long as you're writing, that is what counts.
Now I, by those definitions, am a writer. But, I am so much more than someone who merely commits a word to ink. It's about so much more than the task of creating a word. Writing is, at this time, not yet a profession. It could still be considered a dream. Writing novels is yet to pay off, but it is what I intend to do with my life. Whichever way you look at it though, writing is my life partner and greatest passion. It is the beginning and end to everything I know. It is something that I have always known and I highly doubt this passion will ever dissolve. In my core I am a creator. It pulses through my veins, and it provides with me a direction with which to lead my life.
That being said, I must say that having a passion for something does not make it easier to live with. If anything, it makes it that much harder. It is like living with someone that you absolutely love and adore who you love more than life itself, but who drives you absolutely insane.
My relationship with writing is similar. I love it, it drives me, and it molds my being. Yet, sometimes, I want to kick it to the curb and find something else to do with my life. Yet, I can't. I cannot remove this entity from my life. It is part of who I am, and I do not suspect that it will ever change. But my love and deep passion for the written word does not take away from the fact that right now, I'd rather hide under my blanket like a child hiding from a monster under their bed then write this. And that is because, as I write this, I am experiencing new things in the world of crafting a novel that I could have never prepared myself for.
The "truth" becomes that much darker when it is a novel emerging from your spirit. The truths of a writer without a "goal" seem lighter, more at ease. The truths of a novelist are dark, and at times maddening. Worse than the truths that come from within the writers soul are the "truths" that emerge from outside of you. I'm not talking about a self imposed fear that you draw into yourself, but the fear that others, with incessant questioning and high expectations, push on to you. The fear that comes along with taking on a project of such a scale can wipe joy and pride right off the map.
I did not expect people to react to this journey as they have. I assumed that a handful of people would think of this exhibition as a maddening journey. They approached me cautiously, as though I was contagious. They had the "you're doomed" look in their eyes. The look of fear and discontentment that I have been met with whenever the topic of the book comes up. People literally hold on to me as though the world is about to crumble below us and, in quite a desperate tone ask "aren't you scared? Aren't you terrified that your novel will flop and you'll live the rest of your life trying to cover up the fact that you failed?" It's nice to know that the world has my side. But I must not fail to remember that those were the same questions I was met with at the age of sixteen when I began to introduce myself to people as a writer. Such an introduction was usually met with questions of "Oh, are you? And what do you write? Short stories? Articles?" When I would reply that I was yet to write anything that had been published, they scoffed, "oh, that's nice."
The truth is that, yes, I am scared. Terrified. There are days where I cannot look at the manuscript without feeling as though my head will implode from the pressure. It takes a lot to create something so fragile. It takes a very strong person to release part of themselves to the world without crumbling to the ground. I am absolutely terrified. But, that hasn't stopped me; not now, not ever.
My novel, Shattered Illusions, was released in May from Full Court Press. Like many pieces of this journey, I was pulled towards my publisher like a magnet. It was as though someone was standing behind me, lightly, yet powerfully, pushing me in the right direction. Regardless of my fears, or the incessant nagging in my head that I am going to fail, I have been continuously led from one miracle to another.
I began writing Shattered Illusions during my senior year of high school. You could say that it happened by accident. The idea breathed its first breath of life into me when I was least prepared for it. At the time I knew that writing would eventually take me somewhere, but I didn't expect that the road to "somewhere" would begin at the age of seventeen. I figured that I would first attend school, spend years toiling away at crafting my art and then attempt to write a full length fiction novel. Little did I know what life had in store for me. The storyline, though shaky and incredibly unstable at the beginning of its birth, has grown from a small, unimpressive seed to a garden of unimaginable beauty. It has taken me by surprise again and again, and I am proud to have my name mentioned in relation to such a craft.
The idea, as I had mentioned, came by accident. I was rereading The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (the second in a series of three incredibly powerful novels. If you have not yet had the privilege to enter the world of "The Cemetery of Forgotten Books", I highly recommend that you take the plunge) for the second time. I crossed paths with Shattered Illusions during my second read of Zafon's sequel:
If I had any observation to make it would be that you've gotten the matter exactly right by constructing the whole story from the point of view of a witness to the events, someone who feels like a victim and speaks on behalf of the people awaiting the warrior savior … Nothing makes us believe more than fear, the certainty of being threatened. When we feel like victims, all our actions and beliefs are legitimized however questionable they may be. Our opponents, or simply our neighbors, stop sharing common ground with us and become our enemies. We stop being aggressors and become defenders The envy, greed, or resentment that motivates us becomes sanctified, because we tell ourselves we're acting in self-defense... - Page 297, The Angel's Game
|The Angel's Game|
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The end of the passage hummed the last bars in the sweet symphony that was generating in my mind:
The first step for believing passionately is fear. Fear of losing our identity, our life, our status, or our beliefs. Fear is the gunpowder and hatred is the fuse …
I looked up from the book; my mind swimming in a sea of endless thoughts. "I need to make something out of this," I thought to myself. "I must create something out of this." A world in which the heroes are also the criminals and where ordinary people, gripped by fear, become the demons they fear the most. It was a world I was already living in - a world of deception and hatred, not by means of pure evil, but by means of self-pity. I closed the book almost immediately and shunned the idea out of my open mind. I was too young to write a novel, and I was too scared to try.
Now, three years later, the novel is out in the world. Though the road is bumpy, and there is still much to be done, I feel a sense of overwhelming pride in how far I have come. This is truly only the beginning. In the three years since I began writing Shattered Illusions, I have been incredibly blessed to come across people who, shaped the course of my life and the course of the novel. From teachers to friends, words of wisdom that were passed on to me by loved ones and strangers alike have given me the fuel necessary to continue crafting myself, and my work.
I do not have a secret to the success that I have been graced with so far. I cannot tell you what the future holds for me in regards to this novel or the novels that I plan to write in the future. Such a thing cannot be predicted. However, I can tell you one thing: allowing others to stand in the way of your dreams shows a true lack of dedication to your craft. If you love what you do, if it is part of who are, and if you cannot see yourself living your life without it, push all other voices out of your head. Ignore every person who does not believe you can do it, and prove them wrong.
About Leigh Hershkovich
An avid reader, accomplished pianist, passionate scholar of language and the arts, Leigh currently resides in New York with her imagination.
Find out more about Leigh Hershkovich: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Synopsis of Shattered Illusions by Leigh Hershkovich: One murder. Four eyewitnesses. An unknown assailant. A victim with a mysterious secret. Bystanders beleaguered by life's losses. A killer at large...
When Sam, the proprietor of a local cafe, is shot dead on the street, four strangers become unwitting witnesses to the crime. As the investigation progresses, this quartet of onlookers find themselves not only haunted by the homicide, but pursued by their own pasts.
As they plunge deeper into the reality of his death, all are forced to realize that the loss of Sam is far from their most devastating. Inner anguish reaches a climax point for Ella, Marco, Sarah, and Danny as the answers they are hunting for continue to elude them—and the evidence they hope will vanish refuses to disappear.