Part of my 101/1001 challenges involves publishing a series of novel I’ve been working on. I could include all that in the Mission page, but I think this deserves special attention, so below are posts specific to the creation, revising, and publishing of the Minor Invasion Trilogy. For you writers out there, share my pain, my joys, and everything in-between as I pursue this writing life.
Sober And Hating It
“Write drunk. Edit sober,” an old writers maximum said, not it seems, by Earnest Hemingway, but a fictional character named Gowan McGland (and isn’t that a last time. Never guess the author was a humorist) in the book Ruben, Ruben by one Peter DeVries* proves that fictional advice can have surprising merit, and legs. At this moment, I hate sobriety. A lot.
I’m writing a trilogy, as you do, and working on the first and second books at the same time. Deep necessary work to ensure the story flows smoothly between them before digging into book three. Meticulous, headache inducing work and I feel like my wheels have spun in place for months. I have wanted to turn off the engine and let the tires sink into the mud, except for one thing.
I miss writing. God, I miss it so fucking much.± I really do, the joy and sense of discovery that happens when you link one word to the next and the next until you have a sentence, a paragraph, a story, a chapter, a novel. I describe my work as partial pantister. I start with an idea, start writing, and then about 50-75 pages in I start figuring out the shape of the story, plot and do character work and world building. However, makes my back end work a long process than those lucky idiots who can outline. I cannot write in chronological order to save my life, and believe me I’ve tried. Instead, I write scenes following characters arcs and put them all together at the end. This part of the journey dominates my writing life at the moment because I have to not only figure out how to join the disparate parts but make them flow into a single narrative. It requires attention to detail, and I do not count that as one of my character traits.
What keeps me going right now is the promise of writing. One of the downsides of this method is that I can miss links in the chain of the plot. My brain thinks I wrote scenes that I only thought about writing or that I created a 3 x 5 card for but never following up on. It only leads to more revising, but, hey, I’m writing.
*According to garson at quoteinvestigator.com
±Warning: I’m 50 years old and this is my blog and I’ll swear of I want to. Know this going in
Confessions Of A Partial Panster
Writers always get asked plotter or pantser? Do you outline or do you fly by the seat of your pants. Short answer: I do both. My first book How To Survive A Minor Alien Invasion began in 2009 at, of all places, San Diego Comic Con. I remember the process. I sat in a local deli place not far from the Holiday Inn where I stayed at, eating a breakfast of French Toast and bumming out at the prospect of returning home. I left work in conflict, and the prospect of getting fired remained a possibility upon my return (spoiler: situation cooled, job intact) but that anxiety got me writing. The scene, a character named Lenore Graston gets fired. Then, given my local context, the inspiration came—she got fired by aliens. Both remain core storylines, but so much, in fact, most else changed before I will put out the trilogy, and I didn’t know that when I started either. Welcome to writing. However, unlike those who stay that course, who can write in chronological order, letting the muse take them wherever it decides to lead them, my inspiration dried up. Rather than give up, I changed tactics. I put on my plotters cap and started digging into character development and world building. And a method was born.
Obvious fact: if you read this hoping for one of those streamlined writing processes, I guess your disappointment is hitting you about now. Nothing about this process falls under productivity booster. In fact, combining the process leads to more, not less, work. But I never promised you a rose garden. More important, I think, do not fall into the trap of absolutes. Like most human activities, the categories live at the far end of the scale occupied by a few, and a lot of space between, I live there, and if you do, ‘hi!’ Glad to know you exist. Leave a comment below.