Books about Books!

21 May

After last weeks freak-out in relation to my first draft MS, I decided to re-look at my approach to getting my first novel completed. After I ran out of the room I was writing in and burst into tears, I spent the next 24 hours so stressed out, it brought me back to my ‘previous life’ when I worked in the corporate world (don’t mention the war). I realized I wasn’t excited about my writing anymore, I was stressed about it. This is where I stopped.

On Wednesday, I sat in the back garden with a big glass of my favorite St. Emillion red wine, and thought long and hard. I felt completely lost and over-whelmed at the task ahead. How on earth was I going to review 96K words I ‘heart-and-brain dumped’ onto my laptop over 3 months of solid writing?

Despite my best efforts along the way to visually map out structure & plot and carefully consider the fine art of story-telling, what I have at the moment is a very raw output of a story that has gone around in my head for as far back as 18 years ago.

But really – what do I know about structure and plot? It’s funny, when I originally thought about how I was going to tell the story, I envisaged a complicated structure of two parallel stories (past & present) of the same person that intertwined at significant moments to explain the protagonist’s character motives & reasonings . It was the way I saw the story most effectively played out. Three weeks into writing, I abandoned the idea as I was simply unable to work on the structure and the writing down of the story at the same time. But maybe there was something in that?

The MS is so far away from where I want it to be – so far away from where I know I can get it, in time.

So I have removed the stress, clawed back my passion for the story and marched myself to the bookstore where I picked up some books on novel-writing, story-telling, theme development, structure and plot. And you know, even just a few days into reading the first book I bought, I am not as lost as I thought I was. I should trust my instincts more, as both my heart and writing are guiding me in the right story direction for my novel.

Perhaps taking some time out to read about ‘how best to write’ is exactly what I needed to reset and support the balance — and so I will keeping reading for now!


11 Responses to “Books about Books!”

  1. mskatykins May 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    I think you’re being too hard on yourself. As I said before, distance is a good thing, can help you gain fresh perspective etc. I also know what it’s like to feel like you want to get stuck in and get your work underway/taken care of. I think that reading other sources is a great idea. I should take that advice. A good friend of mine shared his copy of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ with me. I am yet to read it but I hear it’s pretty good stuff, so could be another one for you to consider. 🙂

    I long for a back garden once more! I have a beautiful view from my window but no garden and no verrandah – I’d also love one of those (to sit and drink on!) 🙂

    Feel good about the progress you’re making. Even if you don’t see it just yet. 🙂

    • What's it All About and Other Stories May 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      You know, I think you are right! I need to stop fretting and just allow things to develop instinctually — and right now, that is telling me to read some of what masters of the art suggest when it comes to novel writing.

      I need to get over my fear of losing touch with it — you can’t make beautiful fresh bread without letting it rise first before baking!!


      • mskatykins May 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

        That’s a nice analogy and very zen! 🙂

  2. thebaffledo0queen0ocomposing May 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    96K words sounds like an amazing accomplishment, even if you can’t use every last one of them. My suggestion for getting your passion for this novel back is to take a little break from the writing and just think about it. You know the story about Archimedes and the golden crown, how he solved the problem while sinking into a bath? Give yourself some space. Think about the scenes that make your heart beat faster, think about the words and images that inspired you to begin with. When you go back, take a break from writing sequentially and write those scenes. Just sit with them and let them come out of you almost as if you were dreaming about them. Get lost in them. They are the things that made you passionate about writing this book in the first place, right? Spend a little more time with them.

    Good luck with your book!

    • What's it All About and Other Stories May 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment — I really like the process you outlined and it actually made me excited just thinking about letting things go at their natural pace — I guess I was forcing myself so that I wouldn’t lose the connection I had initially built up with the draft — but I can’t force creativity either!

      Thanks again 🙂

  3. Jilanne Hoffmann May 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Yes, and I would also suggest you try to recall any novels you’ve read that remind you of the structure you would like to develop for your novel. In that way, you can re-read them specifically with an eye toward structure and analyze exactly how the writer pulled it off.

  4. robincoyle May 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Please, please don’t lose heart. The world needs your book.

  5. John S May 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Sounds to me like you’ve got some good material and just need to reflect a bit. I wouldn’t rely too much on “how to” books. I liked the comment from Jilanne – look at works that have inspired you. I think that everyone has difficulties when writing a book. It doesn’t have that immediate impact of knocking out a blog. It’s a long haul. Think about what you wanted to tell the world in the first place.

    • What's it All About and Other Stories May 23, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Thanks John — ‘Think about what you wanted to tell the world in the first place’ — I really like that and it is exactly what spirited me to begin writing in the first place — so I need to re-focus on that!

      Thanks again 😉

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