Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Starting Again

I'm in the process of writing my fourth book for contract, and I'm humbled to find that I still have much to learn. Of course, I don't assume that there will ever come a time that I'll stop growing, but all the same I am routinely startled by my own relative youth and inexperience in the midst of this wonderful writing world. Don't think that just because someone is published means that they've got it all figured out.

About six months ago I started book #4. After the emotional upheaval of writing The Moment Between, I was looking to pen something a little less profound with a little more creative direction from page one. The Moment Between was a wild journey from first to last sentence--I wanted a more leisurely drive with a detailed roadmap. So I spent a few weeks prepping. I researched, did extensive character sketches on all my main players, plotted chapters, and drew a painstaking story arc for the entire book. It was beautiful. In fact, it still is beautiful. The characters are exquisite, the story is interesting, and the plot is well-crafted. But I can't write this book. I've been trying and trying...

I think that in spite of my best efforts to do things "by the book" this time around, I've killed the story for myself. Writing Bridgewater (the tentative title of book #4) was like cooking with a recipe--something I rarely do and wholeheartedly resent. Oh, it's fine to have the recipe nearby in case I need a reference. But I've found that my best dishes emerge when I taste something I love in a restaurant and then come home to do a little interpretation. A little interpretation, a lot of imagination.

So it is with books. At least, so it is with books and me. I've abandoned Bridgewater for the time being. I love the story and I hope to still write it someday, but I need some distance from the prescritive planning I originally did. It just didn't work for me. Anyway, I'm not much for giving advice, but if you're looking for a writing tip, this would be mine: do what works for you. Experiment, try your hand at anything and everything, listen to the experts, and then ditch it all if it's not your thing. There, I've given you permission to be a literary rebel. Use your freedom wisely.

As for what I'm currently working on... I'm in love with writing again. This new book (very creatively called Untitled) has captured my imagination. Maybe that's the key--I'm still imagining it, present progressive tense. It's an ongoing thing. Works for me. At any rate, stay tuned. I'll give clues, hints, and sneak peeks as the story progresses.

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