Monday, July 18, 2011

Growing Up

I still have a lot of growing up to do, as a writer.  I'm getting there, but I'm not quite there yet.

I've been really stuck on the second 'book' of my new novel.  This whole thing is a brand new experience for me, both in terms of emotional involvement and in content, and I've been having quite a bit of trouble.  The book is about death, and about life; it's about religion and spirituality and the belief that, in the end, it all comes down to one thing.  That it doesn't matter if there's someone in the sky watching you to make sure you're making all the right choices.  It's about being happy with your life and doing what you want to do, and following only the rules that make sense to you.  It's the story of a man searching for the answer (to life, the universe, and everything) in the face of horrific loss.  But I, the author, don't have the answers to give him.

I've only experienced loss once, and recently.  It was sobering.  It still is.  It's still hard to believe that she's really gone, that she's much farther away than Tuscon, and even farther away than a phone call.  She is very quickly becoming an inspiration for this novel that she wasn't when I started to write it.  It's a very hard book to write.  It's very, very hard.  Because, in terms of writing, I've only been playing it safe.  I haven't dared to address any adult themes, or adult lessons, like life, and loss, and how you really feel when you want two things the same amount, and both at once.  If I had to classify my earlier fiction, I would actually put it into young adult.  People die, in the book I've been editing, but there's no emotional connection to those people, and the majority of them happen 'off screen.'  I've been too scared to branch out and write something that would make me learn about myself, or that make some people uncomfortable.  This book is my answer to those problems, which is why it's so hard to write.

In many ways, this novel is autobiographical.  Jared (my protagonist) has lost someone, and is dealing with it, as I have.  He has trouble with his faith, as I have.  The world ceases to make sense for him and he's looking for the answer to a question that has no answer... as I am.  We're both very different people, he and I, but it's clear to me that while writing it, I am also writing about myself.  My writing has a lot of growing up to do.  I need to be able to express these emotions, and have the presence of mind to maintain all of these emotional story lines at once.  This is nothing that I have ever done before.  It's scary.

But that's okay.  It's okay to be afraid of the unknown.  No matter what I write, and no matter how I write it, I will improve.  I am, at this moment, scrapping 10,4 69 words of the second book that are taking the story where I did not mean for it to go.  This is progress.  I have never taken so many words out of a story before, not once.  But it's the right thing to do for the story.  I am beginning the daunting task of starting over, from the beginning, and trying to make it closer to the vision I originally had for this section (The Mad Priest of Nothigog is the name of this book.  I love it!).  This is what I mean by growing up.  I'm trying to learn, and I'm trying to keep an open mind to anything that could possibly make me a better writer.  If I learn nothing else from this book, I will consider it a success.

Shameless plug warning: if you would like to see some of my earlier writing, I have a chapter posted online at from an earlier work.  It's called The First Task of Symon Daye, and it's free to read.  I'm trying to teach myself how to edit a manuscript, and you can see what I'm learning there.

Thank you for stopping by!


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