novels


Random quote of the day:

“One has to be just a little crazy to write a great novel. One must be capable of allowing the darkest, most ancient and shrewd parts of one’s being to take over the work from time to time.”

—John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

This morning one of my finished novels, the one that had some of the best writing and worldbuilding I’d done but was structurally flawed, starting talking to me, giving me new ideas and ways to fix the broken bits. Basically, after I finished this novel I realized that I’d tried to write a trilogy within the skin of a single novel (one of the curses of being an organic writer) and it would take a mountain of work to make things right. I’d slogged away at this thing for a year and a half and didn’t have the heart to do a massive restructure and start over, at least not at that juncture. So I shelved it and went on to another novel. I needed the break.

Well, today, as I said, that old novel started talking, doing a full court press, the new structure unfolding before me. It will still need more thinking, but I begin to see how to fix things. And, of course, it has absolutely nothing to do with the novel I am currently working on. But having finished six novels, I’m familiar with this syndrome. It is yet another elaborate attempt at sabotage by my subconscious—because the novel you’re not working on is always more attractive than the novel you are currently working on.

So, I took some notes and politely told the old novel to hold its peace. I would get to it in due time—but first I am going to finish what I’m currently working on. Like I said, I’ve been through this process enough to know that distractions are not my friend. Finish what’s on your plate before planning the next meal.

I actually take this as a positive sign. If the old habits of distraction are trying this hard, maybe it’s a sign that the Wonder Machine really is back online.

I’m so afraid to be hopeful because I’ve been disappointed so often in recent years. This time feels different from all the other abortive attempts, but who the hell knows?

I should probably stop talking about it, so if I go silent it isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Just conservation of resources.

I’ve got just over 42k done on a new novel. That’s not as impressive as it sounds because much of that was prewritten long ago and I’m getting back to it. But I have written over 4300 new words in the last two weeks. I’ve never written at a blistering pace. If I can write 700-750 words on a given day, that’s an impressive word count for me. So, I am unreasonably pleased by that 4300 words, enough so that I feel comfortable about talking about it now.

But not too much. Talking about what I’m writing is a sure way of killing that thing for me.

I’ve been flailing for so long, trying to get things back online, trying old ideas and new ones, and, apparently, I finally landed on the right piece of writing at the time that was right for me. I have been able to put in an almost daily writing habit, something that has eluded me for a very long time.

I won’t say it’s always been easy. The forces of procrastination are still there—but they are the normal forces of procrastination, the ones I’ve been used to dealing with my entire writing life. Not the procrastination of the soul that has been plaguing me for so long.

And the forces of sabotage are still there. As I said recently on Twitter, “I love how when you finally start to make substantial progress on a piece of writing and it’s feeling good the inner critic has got to find new and more extravagant ways of sabotaging things.” But I recognize that voice for what it is and I can tell it to shut up and move on with what I’m doing. It’s been nagging me all my life, it’s part of the artist’s way, all artists everywhere (or most I know), and part of the deal we make with the Universe. For some Universe-only-knows reason.

But unlike the last few years, I recognize that now, too, and can shove it roughly out of the way and get back to what I need to be doing.

So, wish me luck. I’m on that bumpy and thrilling road again and hope to keep on traveling.

Random quote of the day:

“A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.”

—Julia Alvarez, interview, The Writer, Aug. 4, 2016

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Novelists secrete a certain BO, which only other novelists detect…”

—Walker Percy, The Paris Review, Issue 103, Summer 1987

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“There have been plenty of self-destructive rebel-angel novelists over the years, but writing is about getting your work done and getting your work done every day. If you want to write novels, they take a long time, and they’re big, and they have a lot of words in them.”

—Michael Chabon, interview, Rolling Stone, September 27, 2001

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The novel remains for me one of the few forms where we can record man’s complexity and the strength and decency of his longings. Where we can describe, step by step, minute by minute, our not altogether unpleasant struggle to put ourselves into a viable and devout relationship to our beloved and mistaken world.”

—John Cheever, National Book Award acceptance speech for The Writer, September 1958

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

After hitting the five week mark on the poetry project I think I’m going to stop–because I’ve started working on a story. I’m not going to discuss that because it’s early days yet and in my experience if I talk too much about a story before it’s well-launched it dissipates the energy and I don’t finish it. And by story, I probably mean novel. I can’t seem to conceptualize and stay true to anything less complex.

So the poetry project did what I hoped it would do, got me back to a regular writing practice. It’s still early days on that, too, but I’m hopeful. I also hope to put something up on this blog at least once a week. I have found that all writing, no matter what, begets more writing. The important part is to start (or restart) the regular practice of writing.

So wish me luck. But, of course, what I really need is to just keep doing it, whatever it is.

Random quote of the day:

“Like a lot of what happens in novels, inspiration is a sort of spontaneous combustion—the oily rags of the head and heart.”

—Stanley Elkin, The Paris Review, Issue 66, Summer 1976

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Never begin the book when you feel you want to begin it, but hold off a while longer.”

—Rose Tremain, “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian, 19 Feb. 2010

 start4wp

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

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