March 15, 2010

A Novel Undertaking

Guess what, guess what!!! After working on short stories for a while, I laid down the first words of my new novel!!! Woo hoo!!!

It’s a novel I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I’ve been building up to it with some serious brainstorming. I always need to arrive at (what seems to me to be) a great first line or a great scene idea in order to get started. I often have to have the title too. Whether it’s a short story or a novel, these may totally change, but I need to feel confident in that first bit in order to dive into it. My goals for this novel ~ other than for it to be fabulous, of course ~ is to top my last book and to write this first draft more quickly.

I’m always learning, trying to get better, and I hope this allows me to write an even better book. More unified and coherent, more surprising yet not weird, more emotional without being cliché. More nuanced and real yet inevitable. Developed with a pace that feels steady and a little fast.

As far as getting the first draft done quickly ~ I’ve always written quickly, but in short bursts. So I’ll write 50 pages over the course of a couple of weeks or a month, but then I’ll put the book aside as life gets in the way. What I need to concentrate on with this book is sustaining the pace. I need to make progress every day, not stay away from it for too long, not let it go stale, not get distracted by other things. One big sustained push. I always underwrite on the first draft, so it’s not like I have this mountain that I then need to cut back. I just need to write through it. Then I’ll come back and revise, embellish, reshape, refocus. I’ve made the first confident step. The marathon has begun.

As Jessamyn West said: A writer must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking. I think I can be nicely savage.

What I’m Reading Today: My friend Rusty Barnes’s collection of quick fiction called Breaking It Down. Wow. I picked it up at bedtime the other night with the intention of just reading one itty bitty story. I couldn’t put it down until I read the whole thing. His prose is so deceptively easy ~ he must have put so much work into it ~ but the themes and everything are so complex and real. I encourage you to go buy it now.

No comments: