Monday, October 27, 2008
Is Anybody Waiting to Tell Their Story?? It's Awfully Quiet In There
Fall is in the air. The weather is cooling down, almost to freezing at night. Short sleeves and capris are being exchanged for sweaters and jeans. The leaves are changing colors and falling all over my yard and driveway so that walking through them is like wading through deep waters. It feels like change is on its way.
I like the seasons so much because I am restless by nature. If we aren't moving every year, I'm moving furniture around. I like clothes for about five months and then I'm ready to switch out to something different, even if it's the same different I wore the past three years. I like routine, but I like change, sometimes, too.
My life is following the seasons this year, and as the leaves are falling and life around me is shifting in the slightest, subtle ways, my writing is too. In September I shifted writing to querying, giving myself until the month of November to query like mad, and then begin the process of writing again. A new season, a new book. It sounded so easy.
But like any change, I can look forward to it, welcome it with open arms, and then, once it arrives balk like crazy at it! Because change is hard, and often uncomfortable. And I miss what I'm leaving behind, even if it did drive me nuts and I am getting tired of it.
So, this last week of October, I am staring change in the face. Another book. I've waited for inspiration this month to hit, but it's more like a slow moving tortoise. Bit by bit I am getting characters, a feel of setting and smidges of interactions. But no real plot. And no real conflict. And I'm waiting for these guys to start talking to me, but they're pretty darn quiet and it's driving me mad! Is it possible I'm going to have to start them off on the road before they'll pick up the journey as their own?
And then, the New Writer's Handbook lands with a plop on my front porch, my glowing query printed in black and white, a small footnote spelling out that the novel referred to is "under consideration" at the time of publication. Ouch! It's not anywhere near consideration. It's under my bed chatting with the dust bunnies ashamed to show its face. But as I read the query again, all that love I felt for it came back. It was a great plot, I think. It had some great characters, I remind myself. Why did I give it up? Because three agents read it and commented that it just started a bit too slowly for them. Because in trying to spiffen it up, I lost my voice. I tried to make it what others thought it should be, and not what I wanted it to be. And after only 16 queries, I gave up. I put it away as my "starter novel." The one I cut my teeth on.
But the publication of the query reminded me that I wasn't the only one who thought the idea sounded good. Three of sixteen agents thought it sounded good too.
So now I am wondering: Do I try to kickstart a story that has no plot and no driving need to be told yet? Or do I dig out the book I buried as dead and try to revive it, imbue it with the life I've learned by writing my last book? Do I take the first book and revise, or take the idea and start all over with it and write a new book based on the same plot with the same characters? Do I wait a little longer for another story to gnaw at me?
Because the last time I was in this place I threw myself into pirates. Oh yes. A YA pirate novel based on the life of Blackbeard, with elements of fantasy in it. And just as I got rolling, SOME KIND OF NORMAL came busting through the gates demanding to be told.
I'm waiting for the demanding, but it's awfully quiet in here!