A Slow Train to Novel Land

Locomotive No. 482 of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway.

The past couple of weeks have been weird. I’ve been so busy, yet at the same time I’m bored out of my mind. I can’t quite figure that out, except that it’s because I’m busy working on things that just aren’t my passion. Work that you do to get by and work that you do because you love it are two different things. I want to get back to working on my novel, but I have other things that must be done first. But my mind keeps wandering off and I spend more time looking for it than I spend getting things done. I also think I’m developing a forum addiction at Scribophile. And I’m drinking waaaay too much coffee. Time to hit the treadmill and drink some water.

I’ve done some revisions to the first couple of chapters of my NaNo novel, which still isn’t completed. Meanwhile, I’m taking a novel writing workshop at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, which I hope will help me to untangle some of the plotlines that I’ve managed to get myself tangled in. So far the feedback on my work has been very helpful, but now the hard part begins: taking those good suggestions and making them work. What I find really interesting is how a dozen people can read the same chapter and each comes away with a different impression of the character or scene. If you want to improve your writing, getting someone else to read it and make comments is certainly helpful. Just be careful whom you ask, though, because at either end of the spectrum are the admonishments “That’s nice,” or “That sucks.” Neither of those are helpful.

I need to get back to editing my story. Chapter 3 and 4 are going to get some major overhauls because it’s possible that chapter 1 is going to have some changes that will send plot ripples down through the pages. I’ve been wrestling with some of the problems for my main character, Tom, and the answer was so obvious once someone suggested it to me — I need to simplify. In order to create something even more complex. Does that make sense? Actually, it does, because it allows me to weave a tighter backstory which ends up giving Tom more motivation to do what he needs to do. And that’s going to make his character stronger.

At this point, I can’t wait until next week when I can start working on this again. This week I have to finish a writing assignment for a graduate class, and no matter what I do, writing essays always takes five times longer than anything else I write because of the research and the analysis that goes into them. They say that exercise helps, so I’ve tasked myself with taking a walk at lunch.