Building The Perfect Book is a Temple

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angkor_wat_reflecting_pool

As a writer of Asian fiction, I am drawn to Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple. I can’t get enough of it. It’s so mysterious and incredibly beautiful that I have multiple pictures in my home, writing space and office. It uplifts me. It makes me chillax and it reminds me how something great can be brought forth from ideas and stone.

angkor-wat-gate

But first, there was the jungle.

ank W Green lights

Angkor Wat is a Buddhist temple complex. The largest ever built in the word. It’s a 12th century Khmer king’s dream come to life. It’s still standing. The temple broke from Shavism tradition and instead celebrated Vishnu, and there is a legend that holds construction happned in a single night by divine help.

Ank Buddha

The temple’s gradual focus shifted from Hindu to Buddhism. This amazing place was abandoned over the years, as regimes came and went but never completely. And it had protection. The jungle prevented destructive encroachments. The vines and the snakes actually preserved the jewel inside.

ANk wat orange monks

Our drafts. Just like this magnificent temple, they are laid out scene by scene, page by page from nothing. They age. They take shape and they become overgrown. Time to prune.

AngkorWat_01-1600x899

The writing process can feel as if we are enveloping our beautiful words in a morass of vines. So we put the book away. The proverbial shut the drawer moment. Maybe we write something else because we grow bored. Can’t sell it. Can’t fix another scene. Can’t face it.

angkor-thom3-300x200

But it’s when the vines are at their worst tangle that we know some hidden jewel awaits us. Some books can’t be fixed, and some are meant to teach.

Here come the Ifs.

If you can’t get that story out of your head, if you followed a linear path, if each scene flows from outward progression, if you follow goal-motivation-conflict, it’s all there. You just need to edit. Cut back. Combine scenes that don’t work. Try cutting anything that’s boring. Odds are cutting will save that book.

ank wa orange and black

So, if you’re still haunted by the book in the drawer, there is hope. Think of the temple in the jungle, because it’s true. Greatness comes from drawing out the bits that excite and entertain us. Nothing great came from the easy path, if that were true we’d all be living in log cabins.

ANk waht blue pool

I’ll take the temple and the jungle, please.

Elephant gate ank waht 2

5 thoughts on “Building The Perfect Book is a Temple

    Stella said:
    May 4, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Great analogy, and I love the photos!

    Like

      jmledwellwrites responded:
      May 4, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      Thank you for stopping! I needed a good excuse to do an Angkor Wat post-I guess I found one. I love these pictures too.

      Like

    elsie elmore said:
    May 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Great post and amazing photos. 😀

    Like

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