Winter writing retreat, day 3

I’m taking a short break from my writing retreat. Yes, I know, it’s 9:30 at night and I ought to be wrapping up, but I’ve always been a late writer, and given a free schedule — or other demands on my time — this is when I usually work best. I have to make myself write during the day the way I have been the past couple of days.

I was up late last night, actually, though all I was doing was fretting over title ideas for my two chapbooks. (I did finally settle on titles, but I’m not yet in love with them. Strangely, this morning I did find a great title for something else I’m not even working on right now. Such are the agitations of my brain.) So, late to bed, late to rise, and I didn’t really get to work this morning until close to 10. That left just 90 minutes or so before I quit and joined my wife for lunch, and then we ran some errands, and then we straightened up the house, and finally, late this afternoon, I settled back in for a few solid hours of writing.

But, fractured and unfocused as all that sounds, I’ve actually gotten a lot of good work done today. This morning was mostly plot work as a warm up and then some revision on work from a few weeks ago. That was Hemingway’s rule, right? Go back over what you wrote the day before and then pick up from there? Maybe that’s not quite it, but that’s what I did, and the work has been going well.

Some of my actual character notes in Scrivener. (I've redacted some details -- can't give everything away!)
Some of my actual character notes in Scrivener. (I’ve redacted some details — can’t give everything away!)

This afternoon, though, I ran into a character I didn’t quite have a handle on, and I remembered that was an early weakness in Hagridden — thin, unmotivated characters — so I paused for a while and worked on the character. Which led me to another character, which created a few more. Soon I had whole genealogies and complex friendships and courtships in my Scrivener file, and dear readers, those of you who keep wondering about a sequel to Hagridden will be happy to know that I have finally figured out how this new novel relates to those killers down in the bayou.

The new book isn’t a sequel, but I always wanted to work in some reference to characters or events in Hagridden, because I love connecting my work in small ways in order to create an expansive fictional universe. I had a couple of minor characters in mind already, and at least one of them probably will still turn up in the new book. If that happens, I’ll let you know. But this other connection is a bit more important but also a bit subtler, so saying anything about it here might prove a spoiler (or at least ruin the fun of those nerdy readers who like looking for clues in books). So the only other thing I’ll say about it is that I’m kind of excited about the possibilities this connection — and, more importantly, these new characters I wrote today — are bringing to the new book.

Which is why I’m staying up late again. I’m feeling the fire, folks, and it’s time to let it burn.

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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