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April 2017

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Excavating, with a dessert spoon

Two posts have inspired me today: a long one from Susan Taylor Brown ("When you commit to writing a novel there is no guarantee that the story you first start to tell will be the same story when you finally type “the end” and close the book. ... You have to be willing to fight your way through the multiple garbage drafts and revision and spend a lot of time gazing at the screen or the blank pages of your notebook and asking yourself, okay, what happens next and how can I make it work?") and a short one from Beth Kephart ("I sit here, my eyes closed, teaching myself writing all over again.")

The lesson for the day seems to be that every book throws curveballs. Writing a book teaches me a lot, but it doesn't necessarily teach me how to write the next book. It doesn't give me a shortcut. Every book I've written has kicked my butt around the block. Try Not to Breathe almost wrote itself sometimes; it was, comparatively speaking, the easiest book I've ever written. But I say "comparatively" because of those early chapters that I tossed out, the neighbor family that had to disappear because they contributed nothing to the plot, the entire ending that didn't even exist in the first draft because I hadn't yet realized that I needed to close the circle, to knock down a few more of the pins I had set up in the beginning.

Try Not to Breathe came about because I was trying to write a verse novel. No other book I've written has begun that way. They all insist on being written in their own unique Speshul Snowflake ways. It's comforting to know that so many other writers feel this way, that the order of a book begins in chaos for so many of us. Here's to that glorious mess!


Speshul Snowflake ways--I love it. Such great examples here. It's comforting to know that the act of writing a novel has kicked other writers' butts, too (even successful writers). I also liked learning a little more about what Try Not to Breathe looked like in an early draft. Thank you for this.
Thank you for commenting! I don't know why I fall into the trap of thinking that writing will get easier. It's just a different set of challenges each time!
'...They all insist on being written in their own unique Speshul Snowflake'

Lol, 'Speshul Snowflake' isn't the way I'd describe the little blighters :)
No, but it's the way those little divas describe themselves. ;-)
As always, dear Jenn, your words resound. It's the process I'm finding necessary for The Shadows One Walks--that bit of chaos, the back and forth, weaning and padding. Good stuff. As always.
Thanks. It feels so chaotic. Yet somehow, a book comes out.
There's a story I've been working on for a couple of years... it's fun, but it was missing something. I set it aside in the middle of a major rewrite to mull it over. Turns out I was mistaken about the heart of the story. Took me a few months longer to figure out where that heart might be. For some reason it always takes me a while to get to know my stories well enough that they tell me their true selves. I have to remind myself not to rush things.
I have found that, too. Some of my stories revolve around topics I tried to write about earlier, but hadn't found the right way in yet.
Sounds good to me. I'm messing around with a new story.
Cheering you on!