Saturday, April 18, 2009
Where do we go from here?
So I finished "principal" work on my first novel (meaning, I'm sure there are a few edits/changes/corrections coming down the pike, but for the most part it's done) this week.
But as I sit here, I wonder "what's next?"
I have a few vague ideas. I'm bored right now, so let me run some of them by you:
1. Short Stories--I never did crack that short story market. Maybe it's time to go back to writing shorter fiction. I could apply the lessons learned from the novel to a ten to fifteen page story. It's hard getting a novel published, and maybe a few publication credits might one day help the cause.
2. Novel #2--Part of me thinks that I've moved beyond short stories, and that instead of trying to work with a smaller canvas, I should focus on novel writing. I'm happy with the way a lot of THE MOSQUITO VINE turned out...but I'm nowhere near 100% satisfied. Part of the problems stem from a lack of experience sustaining a narrative...but some of the problems are from a simple lack of proper planning. I also have decided that the next book will be a 180-degree shift from what I did in the first one in terms of theme, tone, and style. I think THE MOSQUITO VINE is in a lot of ways a very safe, very traditional way of writing. I don't want to get crazy or anything, but I think I need to try something a little more dangerous.
Thoughts on the my first attempt at novel writing:
I made a TON of mistakes writing my first book, but one thing that I feel like I did RIGHT is not get anyone else involved. Case in point: none of you have any idea what exactly my book is about. My wife knows about as much as you do...which isn't much. My own mother, one of the few people besides myself to actually HOLD a completed copy of this thing asked me recently about it. She asked, "Is it about some sort of monster?" No. "Is it some sort of police-thing?" No again. See, what's I find so cool about it is, people who know me are going to be surprised by my book--because unlike a lot of "writers" I've known over the years who yap, and YAP about their fucking books/stories, I don't feel the NEED to brag and talk endlessly about my shit. Oh my God, there was a chick in one of my English classes back in UMSL that had fucking sketches of her characters that she'd show us...
I'm the opposite, I guess as a reaction to meeting people like that.
Anyway, what's so cool is that people who know me THINK they have an idea of my book. They might think that because I like certain types of books (or movies) that that's what I'd naturally create myself, but that's not the case.
In fact, now that I think about it, other than actually FINISHING the damn thing...not flapping my yap about it (and letting the prose do the talking) is about all I'm really 100% proud of.
Things I will never do again:
I will NEVER, come hell or high-water, stop working on a novel until it is finished. After NaNoWriMo I fucked up by waiting. You gotta keep plugging away.
Taking time off = death
I'd never written so much in such a short span of time, so I forgive myself...but next time I'm going to man-up and keep going UNTIL IT IS DONE! The other way that I fucked up is by not having an "exit strategy." I won't beat myself up too much over this, after all the USA government had a similar problem recently (that I won't get into here) and in both my case--and theirs, nothing good comes of rushing in without a plan to get the fuck OUT of Dodge. I will never start writing without (at least) a vague notion of how I'm going to end things. I spent almost the same amount of time trying to come up with an ending for my novel as I did writing the first 300 pages. And while we're on the subject of page counts, I'm done with the word-count/page-count obsession. THE MOSQUITO VINE is the longest thing I've ever written, so I've marveled at it's length...but outside of NaNoWriMo, there is no reason to keep "score" of these (in my opinion) trivial matters of length.
What I've decided as I write this post:
I think I'm going to spend the rest of this month and May working on a game plan for my next book. I think that's the most logical route at this point. I need to come up with three wonderful ideas and develop them as far as I can--then pick the best one. My goal is to have draft #1 of my second novel by January 01, 2010.
Leah, God bless her, will want to slow my progress down...because I she knows that once I finish my 12th book I intend on lying down and dying. But that's the plan (even if it brings me closer to the grave).