Thursday, July 19, 2012

Writing: and the angst goes on

I am 30,000 words into my work-in-progress, but the remaining 40,000 loom before me like a great chasm. I'm not sure who's behind all the bad stuff that's going on in the novel, and I've got one character who is so enigmatic I don't know if she's one of the good guys or bad, a victim, a martyr, or--maybe--a heroine. Hey, I like that idea. Kelly seems to be waiting for things to happen, but she has to be pro-active if she's to be the protagonist. I have scads of notes, but no outline--that's not my style. My mentor/beta reader/good friend/whatever-he-is has read the first 10,000 words--I gave them to him when I was desperate, but now I've moved on beyond that, changed a major plot element, and made lots of other changes. We're to have lunch next week, and he'll give me his comments--always sharp and incisive, written out so that I can study them. But it's changed so much I now think I was hasty--or panicked--in giving the first bit to him. I keep remembering the words of a fellow mystery writer that the point of a first draft is simply to get to the end.
Last night I read sixty fives pages of Polly Iyer's Murder Deja Vu. (A note of explanation: Polly is a friend; I've never met her, but she's a fellow member of Sisters in Crime and fairly active on the Guppies sub-list; we've exchanged Facebook comments, and I definitely feel she's a friend.) The tension in the opening pages of this novel was terrific, and I was mesmerized, only put it down because I knew I had to be up early. The story has a much harder edge than what I write, and for a few minutes I beat myself up because I don't write like that. But then I explained to myself, with fair success, that each of us write what we write, the way we do it. I suspect it has something to do with the way we see the world. That may make me a Pollyanna type, but so be it. I started out as a  young-adult author way back when and later so tired of agents reading adult manuscripts and telling me they thought they were for the y/a audience. But another friend, commenting on a post on "Judy's Stew" wrote "You made me care about your characters, so you are doing something right. Buck up!" So I will.
But not tonight and not this weekend. I'm taking a brief holiday. Sunday is my birthday, and I'll spend the weeked surrounded by family and friends. I'll read a lot, while grandchildren swim, and put all thoughts of Kelly O'Connell and her unsolved mystery out of my mind. Monday, when I get back to work, I will check the first round of edits on another author's manuscript that I'm editing. So maybe after a break, I'll go back with renewed enthusiasm.
The motto for all writers is, I suspect, "Persevere." There's a lot of advice out there, but that one word seems to sum it up.
Happy weekend everyone.

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