Sunday, August 22, 2010

As Always

As always happens, my writer's mind has begun its usual diversionary track. Yep! While revising and expanding my work in progress, a new work or maybe a new series has reared its ugly head. Characters are begging me to create them, scenes are appearing in dreams, imagination is putting together settings, and I'm struggling to keep my mind on the task at hand.

Some writers can handle multiple projects at one time. I can't. I'm a writer in focus. In other words, if I'm not in focus, not zeroing in on one piece, then nothing really gets finished. I may write character profiles for this new piece, and I most likely will attempt a general outline (something I never really adhere to).

Outlines work for some but not for me. It seems that my stories begin and then write themselves, each scene appearing on the inside of my eyelids and then transferring through my keyboard onto the screen in front of me. I usually know how the story is going to end, but I seldom know how it'll get from point A to point B. If I outline, it is very general, meaning it has a few character names, where or if those characters survive to the end of the novel, and how the story climaxes. That's it. Nothing more.

This burgeoning thing that is trying to distract me, as is true in all my stories, is founded in personal experience. I live in a region of the country served by the regional electric service monopoly known as AEP. AEP serves the general Appalachian region most associated with "mountain folk" as defined by popular, national opinion. Nevermind that these "folk" earn almost 50% less than people living in urban areas. Nevermind that these "folk" have fewer job opportunities, cannot access public transportation, and are bereft of some of the services available in other areas like public water and sewage, trash pick up, and zoning. Regardless of these facts, AEP has raised their electric service distribution prices almost 100% in the last 5 years. That's right. Cost of electric service has DOUBLED! Needless to say, the villain in my new book will be an electric company, a thinly disguised version of my nemesis, AEP.

That's all I'm telling right now. BUT my two-book series, WIP MUST COME FIRST. I can't trunk it again, not while I'm making headway in character development and plot line. This is when it usually happens...when I begin to rush toward the end, effectively disjointing the storyline and leaving my characters to perform deeds that seem foreign to the character I developed early in the story. This is when that virtue, patience, must take hold. Jumping from an unfinished novel into another not-yet-written piece will jumble my feeble brain and make both endeavors fruitless.

Writer know thyself. That's been a little hard for me. I've learned about me and about how I write over time. I know that if I hurry to finish the WIP, then the story will feel rushed and choppy. If I leave the WIP to move to another story that is bubbling up through the curly strands of my brain, then the work in progress (a good story by all accounts) might never be finished.

What is a writer to do? In this case, I'm pretty sure I've got a handle on it. I take notes. When the new story bubbles up, I wipe it from my brain by taking notes on possibilities as to how it might turn out. I keep the notes in a safe place. The WIP will be finished, to my satisfaction, and beta-ed by the Dawg Pack. After the pack has howled out its approval or disapproval, after the final edits are done, then I'll query the piece and keep my fingers crossed. While I'm querying, I'll slip out my notes and let all those collected bubbles of possibility breathe again. I'll write the first chapter of the next WIP, then the second chapter, and so on. When the agent who requests the full manuscript of the two-book series calls and says, "I'd like to offer you representation," I can say (after the screaming and fainting and shouting for joy, of course) "You know what? I've got two finished books on the old computer and I'm half way through a new one." Won't I be proud? :D

1 comment:

smsarber said...

I'm kinda the same way. I'm working on my novel, but I do short stories to build publication credits. But I used to have 2 or 3 novels in the works at once. So I have to one I'm currently attacking, but these other two I can only hope to one day finally find the groove for. I vowed not to touch them until the first one is finished, or in twenty years I'll just have twenty unfinished novels. :-)