So my wife agrees with my sentiments: I should spend some time emulating a professional novelist to see if it fits, to help me decide whether I could ever take the plunge/
I can’t spend three weeks at it. She has plans for week three, and I agree: we both need a vacation, some time away. And we need to see her aging parents. It’s been too long. But, I told her, my netbook is coming along and I will likely weave writing time in. Usually the MIL and I sit at the table and make evil eyes at each other all day. Hmmm, a novel idea 😉
This weekend was sort of a dry run, ad I learned a lot. I discovered I can’t just wake up and write. I can, but I need to do it correctly. I actually had difficulty writing both Friday night and all day Saturday. I didn’t get sucked into the internet, but there were barriers, and I think I know what they were:
Mindset is an obvious concept, but finding the writing muse is not so simple. I tried to sit down and write, but several times I opened my novel only to close it again. I followed my instincts and pulled out Graham Greene’s The Power and The Glory which I’d been reading much too long. That night and over Saturday, I finished it off. Reading that remarkable story and tying many of his events and symbols together really triggered my muse. Saturday afternoon I was able to write; though I didn’t write particularly well.
I use some similar techniques as Greene such as showing vs. telling and using seemingly minor events to drive a theme. On many levels my story is quite complicated, and on others its quite simple. The similarities with Green’s story after I completed it struck a chord, but something was amiss.
I am not a trained writer. I am self-taught and I’ve been writing fiction for less than two years. I know less about writing than your average bear, and I felt a gap. I had ideas, outlines for my scenes that I know should work, and I have a completed novel, but my scenes weren’t cutting it. They belonged in the story, but they weren’t driving anything. There was no plot pull and no building character empathy. The four or five scenes I’ve bundled together to work on just weren’t cutting it.
So I followed my instincts. I opened James Wood. [read yesterday’s blog]
The knowledge was already there, I knew the pieces I needed to fill in and expand on, and I even think I knew how, but I couldn’t, not until I read Wood. I suppose it was a minor epiphany of sorts. All the things I knew came together, and the words I needed to write appeared in front of me.
I wrote another 600 words yesterday, and I was really happy with the results. Really happy. I read the scenes again, and I smiled.
I’ve now edited 36,978 words of my 97,971 word manuscript. I still expect it to jump over 120k. I’ve added about 15k since I began editing it. The second half is much thinner than the first but has less gunk to cut out, I hope.
So what did I learn?
Writing a novel is not linear. I can’t set aside four hours every morning for simply slapping words on pages. I need proper preparation. I need to feed the muse with creativity and knowledge. I need to understand how my scene is supposed to work, what it’s supposed to accomplish, and why. I need to be flexible. I also need to work at filling the holes in my preparation. Facebook was a minor distraction this weekend, but the US Open golf tournament wasn’t. Distractions need to go.
Overall I enjoyed my weekend. Writing good words made me feel good. I feel satisfied. I feel even better about my story, and I think by mid-July, I will have made a lot of progress. I might even have a completed draft.
Now to my real job 😦