Paul McVeigh wrote a story in an afternoon that took twenty years.
How is that possible? We gather images over time, trying to figure out how they fit together. Paul had pieces of a story that didn’t quite fit until suddenly, they did. And then the story came out almost all at once in a single sitting. How do you know when it’s time to write a story? And how do you know when to give up on an idea? These are questions that have plagued so many writers and my clients. Paul was the perfect person to discuss them with. Having written fiction, theater, comedy, and a writing teacher himself, Paul has a breadth of experience and a sensitivity to this topic that will blow you away. His debut novel, The Good Son won countless awards and becomes a favorite of everyone who reads it.
This conversation was both deep and funny, an incredible dive into the places where writing comes from and how to know when you’ve got a story that won’t let you go. This promises to be one you’ll listen to more than once. I have been waiting and waiting to share this one! I’m so glad it’s time for you to hear it.
Discussed in Episode 69 with Paul McVeigh:
- Turning the original short story into the novel The Good Son | Mentioned: Article about the process on Paul’s blog
- How ideas evolve into stories
- Getting clear about what is meant and how people often say things to cover up what they mean
- Writing for the stage and what it taught Paul about dialog
- Why you’re bananas if you don’t keep a notebook
- The elements of the story Paul wrote in an afternoon after pondering for 20 years
- Collecting three distinct elements to build a story
- Creating a story that is the duration of a hug
- Stephen Johnson’s spark file
- Why good writing is never wasted
- Paul is waiting for this ability to match his intention
- Being a risk-taker as well as a writer
- The real question: What will possibly go wrong if I give it a try?
- Making friends with the best writers and how this will help your own work
- Connecting by going in with an offer, not with an ask
- Find writers who are better from you and learn from them
- How working with actors helped him find meaning behind the dialogue
- Turning the short story into a novel
- Writing with a child as protagonist
- How writing about the Troubles in Ireland forced Paul to relive that time
- Going deep with your writing so it becomes more universal
- Learning to look back with kindness and forgiveness
- The importance of intention in writing
- Basking in having completed the book.