I have had several inquiries from friends and family in the last month.
“So, is this next book ever going to be done?”
Yes, but not quickly. Or easily. Novel #2 was 60% completed when I realized the perspective was wonky. This is one of several growth points taken from “Under the Same Moon.” I am rewriting, chapter by chapter.
You know — when you practice, you get better. Novel #2 will be stronger than novel #1 — but this requires buckets of humbling work. I’m taking classes, reading books and editing. (Nothing is so painful as cutting away pages you think are clever, but recognize as unnecessary.)
One of the classes I’m taking includes reading short stories of well-known authors. This week we read Amy Bloom’s, “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You.”
She writes, “Sophisticated readers understand that writers work out their anger, their conflicts, their endless grief and rolling list of loss, through their stories. That however mean-spirited or diabolical, it’s only a story. That the darkness in the soul is shaped into type and lies there, brooding and inert, black on the page, and active, dangerous, only in the reader’s mind. Actually harmless. I am not harmless.”
I started writing Novel #2 in 2008 when I was newly running a non-profit for the first time and dating difficult man. Several of the themes from the story come from that period of my life — which was severely lacking in grace. The last four years have provided space from that painful time; I have to dig deep to get to the emotions that were once written across my face. This is fantastic for today’s happiness, my current relationship, etc. — and difficult for writing. You’ve got to relive the anger, conflict and grief that inspired the story. Similarly, the disappointments of working in Mozambique inspired novel #1.
I’d guess most writers use their art as therapy; God knows many of the writers in my varied writing groups are rehashing previous life experiences under the guise of fiction.
To be clear: that is not what I’m doing with Novel #2. But, life is the best source of material. Any author who tells you otherwise is a liar. Real life folks inspire characters. Horrible news clips give creative plot points. Trying emotional times provide the necessary drama to get a story moving.
One quote in particular rang true at the end of the piece:
“I have made the best and happiest ending that I can in this world, made it out of the flax and netting and leftover trim of someone else’s life, I know, but made it to keep the innocent safe and the guilty punished, and I have made it as the world should be and not as I have found it.”
That’s the joy of writing — making the world as it should be, not as I found it.
The goal is to have Novel #2 ready for final edits by December 31st. To make that happen, I’ve got quite a bit of re-writing to do. Thank you for all of your kind words and encouragement.
That pot of gold? The very best novel I could have written. Not grimacing when someone says they purchased my book. A series of signings where I hand a copy of this story to those same friends and family knowing this time they won’t be returned with editing remarks.
Back to work,