jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (pink))
Dear Rampaging Doubt,

Yes, yes, I can hear you, now I'm at that tricky, almost-half-way stage of my WIP, clamouring at every window, doing your damnedest to persuade me it's all a steaming pile.  Believe me, the temptation to simply chuck it all in and start again with something new is rather large.  It always is.  It's the elephant in the corner that, actually, I talk about quite a lot.  But, you know what?  Well, a few things actually.  Here's a list:

  • You've tried this same game a few too many times before.  Sometimes, I've listened and other times I've blown big raspberries at you and fumbled on regardless.  I know which option makes me feel the best about myself.
  • Yes, it is a steaming pile.  Of course it is.  It's a first draft.  That's what first drafts are for.  Like [livejournal.com profile] janni says, "Embrace the rambling."
  • I'm stil excited about the story, and the really good stuff hasn't even happened yet, and if I abandon it now, it never will.
  • I might not have it all worked out at this point, and the order of things might be wonky, but I really want to discover this story, and that's the only thing that matters at the moment, not being a Super, Splendid, Marvellous Writer, so you can stop hanging that one over me.
  • See, I'm not a quitter, I'm a try-er, and okay, sometimes that's to my detriment, but there's not a lot I can do about it; it's just the way I'm wired.
This weekend, I want to open up my WIP document, disappear into its world and discover what happens next, and keep on finding out until I reach "The End" bit.  Then, I'll go back and set about turning the steaming pile into something a bit more shiny.  Hey, isn't there a fairytale that goes soemthing like that?  It turns out all right in the end, doesn't it?

So, frankly, Rampaging Doubt, you might as well go and bother someone else, because, *La la la, I'm not listening*.

Beligerently yours,

Me
jennygordon: (Clematis)
I know, I know, I’ve been rather ... well ... absent recently, as well as shockingly behind in my F-List reading.  I’m sorry.  I do have a good excuse, though.  A reason, in fact.  You see, I had a week’s annual leave last week, which meant a lovely long stretch of focussing on the WIP, about which I’d been feeling increasingly itchy.  And you know what?  I had a slight revelation ...
 
... I’d begun it in the wrong place!
 
Which means I’ve spent a lot of my time over the past week immersed in re-working the first 6 chapters, and even writing a whole new chapter as well.  And I’m feeling so much better now.
 
The earlier version had been a pretty linear narrative, tracking the main character as a sequence of events forces her to recognise that she needs to go back and face something fundamental that happened in her past.  I knew it didn’t feel right as it stood, but no matter how much I scratched my head and scowled at those first 6 chapters, I couldn’t figure out why.  All the elements needed to be there, one knotting up with the next until MC is in such a mess, she simply has to bite the damned bullet.  And yet ... hmm ... and yet.
 
Then, in a sparkly revelatory moment (don’t you just love those?!), I realised that a better place to start would be to chuck her in at the deep end, or rather at the moment of arrival, in a tangle of ‘what the hell?’ that she could subsequently unpick as she moves forward to face what she needs to face.
 
Phew, does that make any kind of sense?
 
A fellow creative-brain commented that it’s a more sophisticated approach than simply a linear narrative, which scared the bejesus out of me, frankly!  But I can see their point, although I’m still not certain that the chapters are working yet.  Never mind.  In my gut, I’m feeling better about them, and I’ve come to realise over the course of writing however many novels I’ve written, that I need to both listen to my instinct and also to get those early chapters in as good a shape as I can before I can comfortably move forward with the rest.  For the rest of the first draft, I don’t tend to linger overly, but those early foundations need to feel pretty strong for me to be able to build the rest of the story on them.  As for the rest, well, there will be plenty of subsequent drafts to batter them into shape.
 
Oh, er, and somewhere along the way, my MC has switched voice from first to third as well.  Hey, it just happened.
 
All in all, I’m feeling like I’ve done a good week’s work.
 
It’s par for the course that there will be many, many more writerly challenges to face as I move forward with this one.  One word at a time.  One pickle at a time.
 
Wonder how I’ll feel about those first 6 chapters once I’m further down the line ...
jennygordon: (Clock)

Lately, I’ve been wondering what it is about scary books that makes them scary.  And by ‘scary books’, I don’t mean horrible, bloody horror kind of scary; I’m more interested in the classic ghost story format.  I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading, from MR James’ short stories, to Susan Hill’s “The Woman in Black” to more up to date versions of the supernatural spook, and I'm starting to develop a list of how an author creates the kind of story that provokes a genuine shiver.  

 

 

This is what I have so far ... )


All Change

Jul. 19th, 2011 10:28 am
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (pink))

Funny these turns life takes, isn’t it?  Back in May, I was happily working away on my first YA novel, when *KA-ZAM, KER-POW*, out-of-the-blue news takes me back to one of my adult novels and I spend the next 6 weeks rewriting it and rediscovering my love of the themes, subjects and tone of my adult work.

 

Can you see where I’m going with this yet?

 

Yep, that’s right: six weeks away from the YA project has stifled all enthusiasm for it, so it’s back in the drawer for that one, and on to something else.  An adult something else.  It’s actually a novel I’ve been brewing for several years – it’s been sitting there quietly at the back of my mind, chuckling away to itself and rubbing its hands together, knowing that its day will come.

 

Which makes me seem like an utter writing flake, I know, but the thing is, I do know what a finished manuscript looks like, having several under my belt, but I also know when to listen to my instincts.  We give so much to our writing; give up so much else to devote the time and hours our creativity demands.  It’s just what we do.  And that’s absolutely fine, but if the love for my current project isn’t there; if I don’t feel an all-consuming passion for it that has me waking up thinking about the book, going to sleep thinking about it; if it’s not truly singing, even when it's going through a sticky patch, then I have to question whether it’s the right thing for me to be writing at the moment.  I do this thing for love first and foremost, after all, and if the love isn't there, then something is surely wrong.

 

All writing serves a purpose, so the months I’ve given to the YA novel aren’t for nothing, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.  And who knows, one day, its time in the sun might return.  But for now, I’m listening to my instincts that are pointing me in a different direction, and to the new voices who are speaking ever-louder to me, whispering about loss and forgetting, about ghosts and secrets, and I can’t wait to be telling their story.  After a fortnight's break from writing, to reacclimatise after the rewrite, it's just such an enormous relief to be setting down new words, discovering a new story.  If I'd waited too much longer, I might have exploded!

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