Last week was a busy one — I got sick, put out Jersey Devil Press, finished judging the flash fiction for the creative writing contest at Indiana University Southeast, raked leaves, did a lot of reading — so re-starting my current novel proved slower going than I’d hoped.
Then, at the end of last week, I attended a literary reading here in Portland and the writers — Trevor Dodge, Lance Olsen, and Lidia Yuknavitch — were all so inspiring in their fiction that they got me rethinking things about my novel. I started imaging a new way to approach the telling of this story. In fact, I started having just plain revolutionary thoughts.
In ordinary circumstances, this would be exhilarating. I love shaking things up in my fiction, and usually, the more radical the idea, the better the results, because anything that shakes me out of preconceptions or old habits is usually good for my creativity.
But the thing is, I’m not supposed to be rethinking things right now. I’m not supposed to be thinking much at all. I’m supposed to just be powering through a draft, whatever shit that might produce, and then I can clean it up and rework it in revision.
Except this is a sort of revision, and I’m not formally participating in NaNoWriMo this year anyway, so I get to adhere to whatever rules I want.
It’s all very confusing. So much so that I don’t even want to explain here what this revolutionary idea is. But the short, vague version is this: I have my story and my characters and all that, but the narrative perspective continues to needle at me, so I’m thinking — without bothering yet to rewrite anything I’d already written — that I need to just completely change the perspective here. Which is what tried this week, just to shake things up and keep things moving.
It didn’t work very well.
Also, last night I attended another literary event — this time, it was my friend Bill Roorbach in town promoting his new novel, The Remedy for Love — and he spent a lot of time talking about titles. So of course, I started rethinking my own title, which is the last thing I ought to be worrying about right now (I have story to write!), but sure enough, I scribbled a few alternate titles in my notebook during Bill’s reading. I haven’t fallen in love yet, but then, I was never really in love with my current working title, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to change before I’m through.
So, with all that overthinking, I’m only up about 2,000 words since my last post, or 4,200 words since last year. Even without formally participating in NaNoWriMo, this is an unacceptable pace. I’m hoping to hit the work hard this weekend and should post more impressive numbers next week.
I just have to remember to spend my time writing instead of beating myself up for not writing.
It’s funny, all these years and all those many grueling drafts later, how easy Hagridden seems to have been in hindsight.
I’m looking forward to the day when I can look back on this novel and call it easy as well.
My first-ever attempt at NaNoWriMo resulted in the first draft of Hagridden, out this year from Columbus Press. You can order your copy from several online venues, or enter the Goodreads giveaway for a free, signed copy!