Sunday, September 23, 2007

Just Keep Going

I was on a roll on the new book, "The Pardy Boys," the first book in a series I want to write. It's the 'through' book I'm working on while letting "The Abominable Plan of Dr. Rasp" sit and get read. I was tooling along at a really great clip when I suddenly ran out of outline mid-book. What now? How will I keep going? But I did it, I just kept going.

It wasn't very comfortable at first because I was in limbo. Certain decisions had to be made that would affect the entire series of books. I began back-tracking, landscaping, looking forward and back, charting. I even went out of my outline form into an excel spreadsheet. Oh God, it was proctrastination, time-wasting, dilly-dallying. But began to pay off. The wandering, meandering, lost-feeling journeying started to go from hydra-esque split roads back onto a single path.

In two days I'd gone from a roadblock to a road map. I had plots for all six books, and a throughline that connected them all. Not every 'i' is dotted, not every 't' crossed, but that would be procrastination. Now I'm ready to just keep going, and I did it by trusting that staying at the page would take me somewhere, and not letting myself off the hook because it seem too big a task.
When Is It Done?

Books are not like a bird in the oven, you can't just stick a fork in it to see when it's "done". I recently read that Hemingway said "A book is never done, it's just due." And that gave me some relief. I know when I'm headed in the right direction, but sometimes I'm not sure it's finished. But having it due is important. And any amound of due will do. I recently finished a draft of a kid's book I'm working on. "The Abominable Plan of Dr. Rasp" is something I've been thinking about for a long time. But only when you print it and have a place to send it does it seem real. Having to find young readers and send it out helped make it tangible for me. Spelling errors lept off the page. Chapter headings were suddenly so obviously in dire need of renaming. It seemed messy and awkward and just not ready to send out at all. And that's when I realized it was the perfect time to send it out.

It needs commentary, opinion. It needs someone to love it, someone to hate it, and someone to stop reading because 'it just wasn't for them.'

So off it's gone. And now it's in the trough. I'm waiting for responses, not ready quite yet to needle people about why I didn't get a response on the first day saying 'I LOVED it, you're a genius. I'll settle for 'yes, I read it.'
Death of an Idea

I gave something up. For a while. A novel I'd worked on for about a year. It's too hard to say that I gave up on it forever. But I think the idea just won't work. (sniff. whimper.) But I also feel relieved, and that seems to point to my decision being the right one. If I was still fighting for it, then maybe it would be a sign that it's still alive, but I've already moved on to other projects and haven't even thought about "A Night in the Park" once.

Knowing when something isn't working is just as important as knowing when it is. The project was a struggle, trying to shoehorn in too many characters, too many plot points, too many loose threads. Can one even 'shoe-horn' a 'loose thread'?

So it's on to better, more fulfilling projects.