Monday, May 2, 2011

I Think I Accidentally Started a Novel

This time last year, I was in the midst of writing PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND CURLING ROCKS. My goal was to finish revising it within a year. Writing it seemed slow, slower than anything I'd done in recent memory, and at times I thought I'd fail. But I didn't. I not only finished it, but I think I completed the strongest work I've ever done.

There's a new goal for the book now. Find it an agent. But, well... There's research involved and each agent I address gets a personalized letter, but it's not a full time job. And even if it was, it isn't writing. Not creative writing, anyway, which is what I live for.

I assume I'll have plenty of revising to keep my mind going after I find an agent, then more after I get an editor. But in the meantime, I've got a huge case of What-Now-Itis.

I've started two novels since I finished the rough of CURLING ROCKS. Neither have gone well.

The first was a retelling of PERSUASION, told from Wentworth's POV. Only my Wentworth is a modern female Navy Brat, not a returning Napoleonic war hero. It was a scary prospect because I've never touched on the whole Navy Brat thing before. To say that it's personal is an understatement. That wasn't the problem with the story though, the problem was all the stuff I was trying to shove in there that wasn't taken from Austin or my thirty-plus years of being a Navy Dependent. These elements were lame and hokie and, honestly, I think they were there mainly because I didn't want to fall into “moving is so hard!” melodrama or “no one understands what Dependent life is like!” angst.

After restarting the story several times, I put it on pause about four months ago. It wasn't until this morning that I realized all that stuff I just said about trying to contrive a cheesy plot to hide the real non-romantic plot. I was tempted to start re-outling, but really didn't know if I should. Then a Twitter friend of mine (@wendysparrow, one of the most awesome people on Twitter), had some insight about timing that made me realize now still isn't the time for me to tackle PERSUASION, but that I don't have to give up on it entirely.

Many of the themes in my retelling concern the heartbreak of returning to a place that used to be home but isn't anymore. (That guy who said you can't go home again was right. Because you won't be you when you get back and it won't be the place it was. You'll expect things to be the same way they were, but they won't be even close.) It's something I've done several times before, but also something that I'm likely doing next year. So I'm putting down working on this story as something to do after my move, when I can at least call it therapy even if it still doesn't quite work.

The second story I started... Well, it was an experiment on returning to pantsing. (Nonwriters: Pantsing = writing without an outline.) I pantsed my earliest works, after all, but then got more and more locked into stricter and stricter outlines. I was worried at the time I started that outlines where strangling me, that they were why writing sixty thousand words was suddenly taking longer than ever before. The experiment conclusively proved my hypothesis invalid. Also, the story stank. Even after I gave up and started outlining it, it has major issues.

So am I bailing on it too? Well... Yeah, I guess I am. For now at least. I still like the characters a lot, so maybe I'll get back to it later.

For now, the strongest voice in my head belongs to a story that popped into my brain in the shower last week. It's called MUCH ADO ABOUT CURLING.

So, yeah, I'm thinking of a new curling novel. One based on Shakespeare rather than Austin.

There are two reasons I haven't thrown myself wholeheartedly into this project yet. First, I want to make sure this is a reasonable decision and not just me letting myself give up when things get hard. And secondly... Triss, the new MC in my head, doesn't like curling much, at least not at the start of her story. She's just doing it to make her cousin happy. This is something I really don't want spilling into my head before my spring curling season is over.

Thing is... I've already found myself jotting down lines without meaning to, focusing on the outline when I'm supposed to be doing something else, and, yes, even thinking like Triss when I'm on the ice. So I've started working on this novel whether I meant to or not. Which I guess means that I am accidentally writing a new novel.

(Of course, even as I write this, my son is talking about writing a fairy tale in space and the back of my mind is working furiously on a sci-fi retelling of... Well, I don't know what. But I'm sure it would be fun!)

1 comment:

ananda.tashie said...

About not going home again - reminds me of Ry. He's not especially inclined to visit SA anytime soon. He says that all the places of his memories have changed so dramatically (and not for the better either) that it would just be a sad experience.

Sounds like Triss is ready to be heard. Good luck with shhhing her for a little bit, but... mostly, I hope it's an enjoyable adventure for you. :)