Pages

Monday, May 3, 2010

Never give up the new novel

Behind this lovely magnolia bloom are a lot of dead ones

In case you've noticed, I've fallen a bit behind in my blogging lately. This is for several reasons, some good, some bad and this post is about one of them. I'm working on my new novel, while sending out the last one. I say, "working on the new novel" but it'd be more honest to say "struggling with the new novel." I have a great premise, but a premise is not a novel. The characters, especially the main character, are busy talking to me about who they are. But characters are not a novel. The plot is beginning to take shape, with even an unexpected event. But a plot is not a novel. I'm working on an outline. Again, not a novel.

So what is a novel? And how do I wade through all this...decision making? How do I have the courage to never give up on the new work? How do I have the confidence to continue? It's hard not to second guess myself ala "maybe this would work better" or "what genre is this specifically? I have to know before I write" or even "this will probably suck big time, no matter what I do." It's hard not to endlessly prep by reading and studying books on writing (many of them excellent, but that's not writing the novel!).

One way, that I clutch to as a strong guide, is: I love to write. So write. The truth of this novel is in my heart, if not yet in my head. It will come.

But I'd love some suggestions and advice about how to get over the new-novel-hump. Readers?

16 comments:

Aubrie said...

Good luck with your new novel! Sounds like you just need more time to sort things out in your head before you start to type.

To get over my humps, sometimes I just make myself sit down and write. Sometimes I go for a walk and stew over it.

Beautiful picture!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Lovely photo.
Since I'm in precisely the same position, I eagerly await other's suggestions. Aubrie's are good because I think sometimes fear that it won't work, that it won't be perfect, holds us back. OF COURSE it won't be perfect! But if it is to be at all, we gotta write.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I know what you mean! I think it's the plotting and analzing that slows me down. Once I get past that and can just "write", I'm good.

Jim Murdoch said...

If what women tell me is true then comparing writing to giving birth is not so farfetched a suggestion. I’m told that once they have their baby in their arms the forgetting process begins immediately and very soon they only remember an abstract thing called ‘pain’ that they went through to bring that baby into the world. I know I’ve struggled with my writing in the past but I don’t remember the struggle. Looking back those four novels feel like they just slipped out of me. Which is not true. There was a two-year gap in the middle of my third novel just for starters. And yet it got finished and so will this one.

I’ve just read a book by a writer – forget who offhand – but in an interview he or she talks about wandering around lost for two years before their book came together. We are not alone in the struggle. It's just that no one really talks about the struggle. They talk about their new books.

I think it’s wrong to say that working on characters or plot or outline or just sitting thinking is not writing. It’s all a part of the writing process. Preparation is everything. By the time I finish this book it’ll probably be the most thunk about book in history but that’s fine by me. All of that will be forgotten and I’ll start thinking about what I can do next.

The big question I struggle with is whether the book I’m working on needs to be written. There are love affairs and there are crushes. At first it’s hard to tell the difference. Only time will tell. Okay I’ve been ill but this book has been with me for four years now and I can’t shake it. The only thing left to me is to write it to get it out of the road. I don’t see me being able to start anything fresh until I do.

Arnold said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I

would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have

enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

http://dataentryjob-s.com

Carol Kilgore said...

Keep thinking about characters and story. Keep writing. One day you'll be so engrossed you'll wonder why you wondered about it.

SWUBIRD said...

Conda:

I have read a hundred sad tales about the woes of writing, and they all say the same thing: Write, write and write! It's the best teacher in the world. You know the old trick. If you have a story idea, write it down. No matter how lousy the first draft is, nothing good can happen until it's written down. So write, write, write!

take care.

Enid Wilson said...

Write, write and write! I've set up daily goal of at least 500 words and it's working...Good luck to you too.

Really Angelic

Conda V. Douglas said...

Aubrie--yes, forging ahead, just writing it, sometimes works for me too, thanks for the reminder.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Kathy, my new mantra: "It won't be perfect."

Conda V. Douglas said...

Jennifer--yeah, I always want to skip the plotting, but if I do, I regret it.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Jim, excellent points, all. Yes, it is all writing, and for me the plotting, etc. tells me if the book is a crush or a love affair. If it's a crush maybe it's a short story instead.

beth said...

I've recently started my new novel, too, and even though it's not my second, it still is a struggle. It's always either a struggle or magic...you've just got to push through the struggle to get to the magic.

Talli Roland said...

A new novel; how exciting! Yes, sometimes all it takes is just getting things straight in your head first. Good luck!

Claire Wilson said...

Good luck with it, Conda. I hope that you get there in the end and find that it was worth the journey :-)

Conda V. Douglas said...

Thanks, Claire!