“The time goes on and the manuscript crawls on. And after a long time it will be done. I am not sad. In fact, I am pretty glad now.”
John Steinbeck, “Working Days,” Entry #62, September 2, 1938
I am glad, too. In fact, I’m as close to rocking as I have been for quite a long while.
No, the novel’s not done. Not even close. But I’m working it again; stretching and pulling and beating and tearing and then trying to sew it back up.
I had gotten in a funk about it and some personal goofs and my schoolwork and whatever, and I left poor Jace with a knife to her throat in a darkened, abandoned holding cell for way too long. But now we’re moving again, she and I.
The book has a ton of problems, no doubt, but my novels always have a ton of problems in the middle passages. By that time, I’ve always thought of a hundred thousand new colors that will absolutely improve the painting and so I just start splattering cobalt blue and flake white and viridian green and a touch of cadmium red all over the place.
In other words, on page 358, suddenly there will appear a new character or a new situation with references linking backward. I have to keep lots of notes as to what new thing happened when so I can remember to go back and set it all up.
As confused as it sounds, it actually feels like I’ve come home again ‘cuz it’s always this fouled up. Hah, this is normal for me so that’s sadly reassuring.
On the other hand, this is where the painfully solitary act of writing starts to get giddily fun.
What I did, when I realized I had lately lost my writing discipline, was to ease back with a new short story (and by selling an older one to a market I’ve been trying to break in to…Thuglit.com). The new story was an idea I had before Bouchercon, but hadn’t touched because I wasn’t sure what was up. But at Bouchercon, because of the booze or barbeque or inspiring writers or rage inspiring hack writers, the thing took shape.
See…it’s all dialogue.
That’s right, baby. Nothing but dialogue. No description. No narrative. Nothing literary or literate like that. Nothing but quotes. Nothing but two guys talking and…eventually…shooting. It’s odd and experimental and structurally goofy and I love it.
Getting the thing done over the course of two days – I’d planned two weeks for it – quite wonderfully charged the writing batteries. Now I’m all atwitter, much like a two-bit tweaker, to crank up the stereo (jazz or instrumental world beat when I’m composing new words, brutally loud rock or blues or metal when I’m editing), toss a twelve pack of cheap beer in the fridge, snatch up a few big bags of Skittles and some Oreos, and get the fuck back to work.
Plus, I finished my second Master’s class (out of twelve…oy, vey….) so there is nothing in front of me except wide open roadway.
I know who’s dying next, I know who’s discovering the nugget next, I know where the beer is and how best to suck the filling outta the Oreos.
Hah…this is what it’s supposed to be like and I’m glad I found it again.
So don’t call me, don’t email me, don’t send me a text message that’ll cost me ten cents, don’t send up smoke signals. Leave me alone and when it’s done, assuming I’m not dead, I’ll come up for air.