Monday, January 29, 2007

Write a novel with me! (And why Lawrence Block is my hero)

So this morning, for about the hundredth time since I started this whole writing thing, I found myself picking up one of Lawrence Block's books for inspiration. Not one of his gazillion mysteries, although I find those riveting and inspirational as well. No, I picked up one of his writing books, of which, thankfully, there are several. Today it was Writing the Novel.

What amazes me about Lawrence Block is that every time I pick up one of his books on writing, I find something helpful. Maybe it's hearing that even LB, who has written more great books than just about anybody, has the same trials and tribulations as the rest of us. Maybe it's his honesty, or his fabulous, no-nonsense advice. Whatever it is, it sure puts things in perspective. And even better? When I put one of his books down, I invariably find myself at the word processor, starting work on another project -- or picking up where I left off two weeks ago. (Sometimes longer.)

As of this morning, I had about a gazillion ideas competing for space in my head. Should I try writing two books at once, I wondered? Which idea was stronger? Should I try something different? Should I take up ballroom dancing instead, and save myself all the mental agony of trying to figure out what to write?

I picked up my well-thumbed copy of Writing the Novel and dove in, and as always, found exactly what I needed. Hope, for one. A breath of sanity. And a revived sense of focus.

Then I put the book down and got to work.

Now, five hours and fifteen single-spaced pages of brainstorming later, I have outlined the first twenty chapters of the next Wolf book. And I am starting work on it tomorrow, with a proposed finish date of between May 19 and June 16 (I always do an over-under).

I'm sure the story will change as I go, and I still have to outline the last ten chapters, but for the first time in six weeks, I have a strong sense of direction. Which my husband will be very happy to hear; I think I'm a bit hard to live with when I'm between books!

I'll be posting about the progress of the book as it goes -- and that includes word counts and roadblocks. Although I'm sure they'll just be teeny-tiny speedbumps. Right?

If any of you budding -- or more experienced -- novelists would like to join me, please do; you can post word counts, problems, or whatever you happen to be dealing with. Feel free to put your targets down, too -- sometimes accountability helps. Whether you're 3/4 of the way through or just starting out, feel free to share what's going on in your own novel. I'd love to hear about your process!

My goal is 6/16 at the outside, which is approximately 6 months from start to finish. (I'm shooting for an 80K book.)

Let the rollercoaster ride begin!


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