Why? An author can spend a lot of time, money and effort exploring a possible title, thinking she will go all the way to the end and market it as one of her precious jewels, but – for many possible reasons – abandon it along the way.
I’ve been precisely in that position for six months now with regard to a novel I started but which I find myself hesitant to go with.
In New York City high schools I used to teach my writing students about “author’s purpose” but that teaching never so much struck me as being so critically important as it does now. Why? I’ve put a lot of time into this book and know it can be a good book, even an exceptional one.
Is this the notorious ‘writers’ block’ of which I often claimed I never got? Or is it simply a case of disinterestedness, of boredom with the topic, born of a sense that I might not care so much about the topic as I did when I began the writing. The truth is that – right now – I don’t care so much.
And yet, I sense that I have a good book if I simply persist.
Much of the decision to persist depends upon author’s purpose. Why did I want to write it in the beginning? One reason: I wanted try to dissuade ‘kids’ from going to Syria to fight because no war is glamorous, especially that one. I felt that the ISIS propaganda machine was more persuasive than our own and that young minds were being manipulated to wasteful ends. I still feel that way but is it worth writing a novel? That I don’t know. Not that many American kids are journeying to Syria anyway so ‘what’s the point?’ A good counter argument, no doubt.
Anyway, here is what I have written so far on the book. Comments appreciated. The link below is to the first five chapters.
Sample: Copyright 2018 GL Dorion
Chapter 1 Aleppo
The dust finally settled, the storm ended. The sun baked us even though it was just mid-morning. We had gone to Syria to be jihadists although we were not Muslim. Istanbul first and we left that city two days ago. Now we crossed the Turkish border and were at our destination. We wanted to fight against the regime that was murdering its own people. The Americans were supporting us secretly, but it was on open secret among the jihadists. They wanted Bashar al-Assad brought down at all costs – even if they had to deal with the devil.
My name is Luke Gebhard. Gustav Schmidt and I had grown up in St. Paul, Minnesota. German ancestors, football and baseball and ice hockey during Minnesota’s long winters – we were the best of friends. No, we were not radicalized by anyone nor were we radicalized at all – at least we didn’t think so.
We were only 21. We had gone to high school together. We went through two years of college afterwards. We were in the same political science class. Professor Schmidt – another American of German extraction and Gustav’s father – railed against Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and her basically open-door policy for Syrian and other migrants escaping the Middle East and North African wars.
“She is destroying Germany, the nation of Goethe, Bismark and Wagner,” he said on the day we told him we were going to the Syrian war. We knew his thoughts about Merkel and Syria. The professor longed for the old days and had a hard time adjusting to the rapidly-changing modern life that the big cities of the midwest had become. He liked the world of his books. He wrote articles all the time, criticized European governments for their ‘stupidity’ in how they dealt with Muslim immigration. His students thought him to to have been old school. But they liked him. He was in his 29th year of teaching at a major institution. The university wanted to retire him but he was too popular and they dared not make a move. They didn’t like his conservative politics and things that he wrote and criticisms even of the university itself – a malcontent, he was labeled.
“Be careful, boys. Come back in one piece. Take care of one another, and fight for the cause. Assad has caused these migration problems and has flooded the west with his refugees and the poor and with a smattering of terrorists in the process who will only cause pain for many in our old country. Germany will never be the same. My grandfather’s Germany no longer exists. Pretty soon we won’t be able to recognize it and after that, the same will happen here. Sharia law will destroy America as we know it. And the libtards will just keep feeding the gullible more bullshit.”
We didn’t come to Syria because of the professor – well, maybe partly – although Gustav – a straight A student unlike me – and I also were upset with what we saw happening in Germany. We wanted to see the world and find adventure. And so that first day after crossing the border into Syria, we met our contacts after making our way to Aleppo, an ISIS stronghold – two young idealistic and naive – we were to find out – American boys.
On that first night after meeting Abdullah, a Sunni Arab who was recruiting for Islamic State, we were grilled by three tough-looking fighters who said they suspected we were working as spies for the Israelis. They demanded to know who sent us, why we were there, and who were our contacts. When we told them no-one sent us, that we had no contacts and we wanted to fight for ‘the cause’, they laughed at us and said that either we were ‘dumb stupid Americans’ who think they can just show up and magically fix Syria’s problems or we were Israeli spies.
Categories: Authors' Purpose