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August 31, 2010 / izanobu

Getting There

Had a rough patch or three in the last couple weeks with my crazy novel project, but I’m in the home stretch on one novel at least.  I had set it aside to work on the one I really wanted to workshop, but realized after a few thousand words that TVMoSS is going to be a lot more complex as a novel than I originally thought.  While I think I could probably still write it (at least a passable for workshop draft of it) in a couple weeks, I’m not sure I want to.

So I switched back to my thriller.  And hit the great swampy middle.  The last novel I wrote (my second ever) I took an eight month break in that swampy middle.  And I swore never again.  No more breaks.  But the middle is still not fun.  There comes a time when I’m writing and I can’t tell if what is falling out onto the page makes any sense at all.  I was so worried about this novel never making it to 80k words, then I solved a problem and added a POV.  Which is great for adding words, but suddenly I had a character with a whole storyline show up a third of the way into the book.  Is this done?I wondered, and can this work? Am I screwing it all up?

I don’t know. I still don’t know.  So I guess in the end I am glad I’m taking this book to the workshop.  DWS will tell me if he thinks it is broken.  And the others will all let me know if they’d even want to read past the first 50 pages.  So we’ll see. But it’ll be done at least. And I’ll have written my first thriller ever.  I keep wanting to have a character fireball something or whip out a sword or teleport.  I miss you, speculative fiction! I also miss short stories. So very much. I haven’t written a short story in like two months.  I will soon. After Sept. 10th.  I’ve still got WotF to win, right? *grin*

These are the days, however, when I’m glad I have a super supportive spouse.  He went on a long walk with me this afternoon and I told him all about my detective (the POV I’m working into the story).  My husband is psyched to read this novel now, when he was lukewarm about it in the beginning.  His excitement helps me.  He thinks the story sounds better, more complex than it originally did.  He loves  the idea of the character and the motivations behind him.

As writers, we are so often alone.  No one can write for us.  It just can’t be done. If someone is writing for you, then they are the writer.  Bouncing ideas off people is good, but at the end (or beginning) of the day, we just have to sit down and do the work.  All on our own.  And what we do is subjective.  We can’t ever know if it’s really any good, because “good” varies with the subject offering the opinion.  But when I say “hey, listen to this idea” or “hey, does this work, do you think?” to a responsive, interested ear (like my husband), it helps with the isolation and quell that feeling of insanely typing away into the dark nothing.

So even though I have to wade into the swamp each day by myself and try to kill a middle, I’m not truly alone.  I’m fortified by all the people that support me, and by the brave souls who have gone before and those who are wading into their own swamps alongside me.  We’ll slog through.  And we’ll get there.

Back to the swamp now.  I’ve got a novel to slay.

4 Comments

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  1. thomaskcarpenter / Aug 31 2010 3:28 am

    I know exactly what you’re talking about with that swampy middle. I had a great idea for a short last weekend and whipped out the first 3k on Friday and Saturday. Then Sunday came along and I stared at the computer for four hours. I wanted to get up and go do something else, but I kept telling myself the mantra “Writers write.” Eventually I squeaked out about 900 words. It’s not much, but I didn’t let the swamp suck me in (to borrow your metaphor.) I’ll wade back in Wed night.

    On supportive spouses, I feel like I need to have some success writing not only for me, but for her, just so she can feel better about putting up with the countless hours of writing time each week. I think when I make my first pro sale, I’ll take her out for sushi as a reward for dealing with me. :)

    Keep slogging, Nobu, and see you in a little over a month!

    • izanobu / Aug 31 2010 11:47 am

      Yeah, I don’t generally have this problem with short stories, thank god. Shorts I can finish in a day or two, so I don’t tend to get stuck in the middle the way I do with novels.

      Jim Butcher actually called it The Great Swampy Middle long before me…but it’s such a good term for it that I’ve yoinked it :)

  2. Ben Godby / Aug 31 2010 4:32 am

    What I probably love the most about writing, and which is constantly thwarted by that swampy mire of which you speak, is to be able to finish something and then hold up several hundred pieces of paper and say, “I did this.” It doesn’t matter if it’s good, if it gets published, or even if it’s logical; there’s a great satisfaction to the homo faber inside of me, the chimpanzee that’s digging into termite mounds with a stick, just to complete the work.

    Oh, except that the stick is a plasma rod, and the termites are aliens.

    -bn

  3. Marina J. Lostetter / Sep 1 2010 10:34 am

    Aw, aren’t supportive spouses the best? It’s always nice to have someone there to affirm that your work is worthwhile. And to have as a sounding board!

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