Sunday, May 25, 2008

more novel process

Toward the end of this week my editing slowed down, not surprisingly as I reached the point in the novel where the final action was gearing up. I struggled with it for a couple of days, and then out of the blue...

NOT the solution or a revelation for the edit, but the full-blown idea for an entirely NEW book.

I had to laugh at this development. It has become my pattern. Just when I'm closing in on finishing one, a new one bursts into being and screams for my attention. On the surface, you might think it's an avoidance technique. Leave the difficult work of that final edit behind and go for the new, sparkly idea that is just whirling with possibility.

But on a deeper level, it's actually a gift. I am loath to finish a novel without having another one to leap into. Granted, at this point in my writing life I have a number of first drafts awaiting my attention when I get this one sent off. But I always seem to need a NEW one.

This particular new one has been bubbling under the surface for awhile. A vague premise, with nothing much to flesh it out. This week it fleshed itself out for me, so I've been making notes but not allowing myself to get too caught up.

Meanwhile, I decided to dig into the struggle with the current edit and see if I couldn't sort things out. I found myself going back to the beginning and working on the first 20 pages. Suddenly, I saw what I needed to do in that first section, and if you're a writer, you probably understand why working on the first 20 pages is a surefire solution to fixing the last 20. I forget this about my process as well. I have to bump into it anew each time.

It feels just as exciting as it did when I discovered it with the first novel.

And now there are SIX.

(and I'm popping back in to say that pretty much the instant I hit "publish post" I had to grab the pen and jot down the revelation about the first 20 pages that suddenly came to mind... the first domino that sets everything in motion toward the end.

I used to think I should know this when I wrote the beginning, but I now know that I can't write the beginning until I get to the end. And often enough, I have to go back and forth a number of times to get those final dominoes in place.)


Rising Rainbow said...

I'm glad that your process is moving along productively. I know the stalls feel like interruptions but I really think they are "brewing time." I know I have to have a lot of that brewing time for my writing to be productive.

billie said...

I agree totally about the "brewing time." I often refer to that as simmering. :)

It's all part of the process.

Victoria Cummings said...

The going back to the beginning and then finishing the end is a good thing for me to be reminded of right now. How exciting to have a new idea to start working on - it makes letting go of this book so much easier. I'm glad you're being so productive - just like everything else is in boom - you are too.

billie said...

Victoria - hope your book/process is going well too. I am swimming in books over here. I really want to get this one out the door so I can work on the next thing while "waiting."

Grey Horse Matters said...

You sound like you have everything under control and it's going along just the way you need it to. It's always exciting to get new ideas for another novel, but I expect it's hard to finish the edit on the current one, when ideas are swirling around in your head for a newer exciting story line.
I have a great idea for a novel I'd like to write but because of time constraints and low self-confidence about my writing skills, I don't know if I could be successful with it. I may do it anyway, just because I want to. We'll see. Good luck with your edits, beginning to end.

billie said...

Arlene, my feeling about writing is that the first and best reason to do it is because you want to. I don't find the writing part particularly "hard" - not that it's easy, more that I enjoy the process of it and the mystery of the process. The harder part is dealing with publication if one wants to publish with a big house, in hardcover.

But that part won't happen if the first part isn't done, so ... if you enjoy writing, give it a shot. You will learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Heidi the Hick said...

I love this post! It's always so affirming when I read that someone else shares my experiences!

What really stuck out for me...

That the new idea popping in while the previous one is in the final stages is a GIFT. This is so true.

billie said...

I'm glad to know it resonated, Heidi - I think sharing some of these familiar parts of the writing/creative process are one of my favorite things about writing. :)