Saturday, November 08, 2008

new novel, new blog

I started a new novel, and somehow this demanded that I start a new blog.
Check it out--here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

stories are short--

but it takes a long time to write them. Not as long as a novel, oh no, but it's not proportionate to their size. Sometimes it's a matter of stopping, because you don't know where to go. I've had stories that stretched over years, because I couldn't figure out how to get beyond the 1st 3 pages. Sometimes you just keep slogging, doing a little bit and a little bit more, not seeing the end, or even how you're going to fit in the dead husband on the 2nd floor into the so-called plot.
That's where I am now, struggling with the dead husband (who is also nameless, and maybe that's his problem), and trying to figure out if I want this story to have two points of view or only one. Having multiple POVs is convenient--you can say things from more than one place, put in events that are invisible to the single POV. But convenience isn't all in a story--you can't just keep putting things in like discount appliances that you thought you might like, but now they're cluttering up the counters of your kitchen (I wanted that juicer, but it's so big!).
Anyway, today is a day of not much writing, since I have to go to campus and do various things, and also tonight is my writers group night (ironic: writers group = no writing). Which is why, in this scrap of time before I go and write reference letters and xerox things, I'm thinking about writing instead.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

off to novel land

I'm going to visit the home of my ghost novel--Logan, Ohio--not any longer for research. It's like visiting the homeplace of a long-gone relative--I'll walk around and say, yes, here Carl and Nancy got a sandwich while they discussed whether or not they'd perform an exorcism; and here, Jason ran down to the river while Sierra watched him fondly from the porch of the canoe livery; and so on.
Sorry, I'll say to the novel, I'd like to stay and chat, but I've got some business with a couple of stories--I'll give you a call some time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

summer writing

Just as we used to have summer reading, either for school, or to win a modest prize from the public library, I've instituted summer writing. I've finished (for now at least) working on my novel (I'd like to think it's totally finished, but it's probably not). I have another novel I want to revise, but I don't want to work on that for a while. And I don't want to start a new novel (plus I don't have any novel-size ideas as yet).
So my summer writing is going to be stories. I spent a week on a writing retreat, and assigned myself to come up with a new story beginning every day (6 in all). And now I'm working on one that has the working title of "Yuma," since it's set there and I couldn't think of anything else. It has 6 characters so far--an old woman, the young woman who lives across the street from her, the girl's baby and the girl's husband, the old woman's dead husband, and a man down the street with whom the dead husband used to feud. How will it go? We'll see, as I used to tell my kids when they asked me questions I couldn't or didn't want to answer.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

snowed in, sort of

And snow is good for revision, but today I don't need it, since I've finished this draft, which means that I can put Carl and Nancy and Isabel out of my head for a while.
It's not that I don't like them, but I've been prodding them with the cursor for a month, and they're a little sullen by now, wanting to know why they can't keep that perfectly good line of dialogue, or why I took the china swans out of Carl's booth at the antique mall.
I have my reasons! But of course all writers say this, don't they?

Monday, February 25, 2008

still revising

I'm now on part 3, about 1/3 of the way through. So far I've cut abt 30 pp., which I would have said was impossible, but apparently not. It amazes me and shames me a little that I'm finding so much dead wood.
There are several kinds of cutting that I'm doing:
--finding a shorter (better) way to say something, just the most basic kind of cutting
--the parts where someone is getting into the car or opening a door or moving across the room, and the movement itself isn't necessary or significant
--bits where I was interested in something, but it didn't really do anything for the book; hence I've cut back judiciously on Carl's raptures about Ohio history. I did a fair amount of research, and my subconscious writer must have felt it should not go to waste.
--little tangents that I took in the first draft; these narrative tangents sometimes led me to great stuff--the discovery of Lily's next door neighbor Emma, who aims a shotgun at Carl, but then goes with him to find Lily, for instance. But others were dead ends.
--when I repeat myself, which happens especially in dialogue, I've noticed, which is probably because real speakers are often repetitive, saying the same thing in different ways, even with totally different words, but the underlying message is still the same.
This is the 5th draft, I believe, and I'm feeling humbled by how much I found to do.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

snow is good for revision

I set myself to cut 10% from the first section of my novel (on my 2nd reader's advice {thanks Isaurine}), and I managed to cut 9.85878%, which is as close as a clamshell,* so I'm feeling pleased.
The other part of the planned revision is harder, i.e., to make Carl a little more substantial, get him to stop hiding out between the lines.
I ought to thank the snow and the cold, because they made it easier to stay in front of the computer. Every time I looked out the window and saw the giant icicle hanging from my across-the-street neighbor's porch, I'd shiver, and turn back to get some heat and friction going with the keyboard.
My plan for Carl is to give him a failed relationship--a loss in love is always good copy. And maybe something else, something minor, like a passion for trains or a history of thumbsucking (hey, some very brilliant people used to suck their thumbs--not saying who).
*I've decided to start making up my own future cliche similes.