Moving the Story Along
Suddenly it’s been a month since I last posted, and am not quite sure how that happened. January-February-March always seem to be a blur, where I go into a physical and psychological Maintenance Mode, doing nothing more than what is absolutely necessary. Perhaps I’ve only really noticed the passing of time because I worked on the business taxes yesterday, which are of course due a month before personal income taxes. Perhaps the stress of trying to figure out what I was doing gave me an adrenaline hit.
Setting Down the Pen for a Moment
This does not mean I haven’t been writing. In fact, I’ve been writing more in the past month than I usually do, just plugging away at my novel, and continuing to learn the craft. Writing a novel is very, very different than writing a blog post, a nonfiction book, or even a short story. There are so many different elements and so many different approaches, and so many decisions to make. The ability to see many possibilities is a desirable trait in any kind of creative endeavor; so, too, is the ability to make decisions. The two traits, however, are often in conflict.
Should my heroine be in the throes of a personal disaster at the start of the novel, or should she be past it and yet a little scarred? Should the small town be landlocked or in a waterfront resort? Should the old lady be killed off or should she live another twenty years? Sometimes I think I’ve made my decision, write several chapters based on that decision, and then suddenly run into some sort of problem that a different decision could have avoided. Sound like real life, doesn’t it?
Yet if I don’t make a decision, the story doesn’t move forward. And that’s what we novel-readers want, isn’t it, for the story to move forward? Even if all that happens is a bit of personal growth, it’s a step forward for both the main character and the reader’s experience. Our own lives only move on as a result of decisions and choices.
Thus, while immersed in trying to make decisions that move my novel forward, the sense of suspended animation increased in the rest of my life. It was time to take a look around and reconnect. We’ve begun to put some plans in place, to change things up a bit on the home front and spend more time in the company of good friends during the warmer months. Fortunately, I’ve been dieting since the holidays ended, and have managed to fit back into my basic blank tank bathing suit, which I’d purchased seven years ago but never wore. There are supposed to be plentiful opportunities to wear it this summer. (And also fortunately my friends have aged just as much as I have, and my flabby arms will be in good company.)
The writing, however, will continue throughout. At this point, I predict the novel will be finished before summer, some good six months later than I’d originally planned. On the bright side, I’ve been taking my time to learn the craft as thoroughly as I can, and laying the groundwork for the novels that will come later; those will hopefully not take quite as long to hammer out. When I’m ready I will post a chapter or two or at least share in the details. It’s getting closer and closer to being finished, and I’m writing the last part of the story now. Never thought I’d see the day that I could say that I’m finishing a novel.
So I guess my own story has been moving along, after all