Hawking Up Hairballs

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Grappling With Demons

June wasn't a good month for my writing. I finished the second draft of my novel in the first week of the month, and was eager as hell to dive into the third draft. I figured I could have it ready in three or four months. To my chagrin, there was much I didn't like about it and I've had to launch into another grueling rewrite.

I wrote a lot of poetry in my younger years and, for better or worse, I'm writing this novel with the same approach that I took to my poetry. Every paragraph of the novel has to be solid. I'd like to take a different approach, to accept "good enough" instead of demanding that everything be "just right" but I can't do it.

One of my guilty pleasures is books on writing. I've read at least a couple of dozen of the things. They are mostly crap, geared to those people who want to write the next blockbuster mystery or romance novel. Still, I read them and I've come up with a helpful technique or two from doing so. One thing they suggest, without exception, is getting on with the damn book. Don't linger over the right word or sentence for too long, they say. Some of them recommend writing X number of words a day and giving yourself a time frame of Y in which to do so. All well and good, and if I aspired to Bernard Cornwell or Elmore Leonard, maybe I could do it but I can't. Something inside of me rebels. I linger and mull and brood, averaging about 100 words an hour. That means more than 1000 hours until I finish this draft. Geez, Louise, I'm not getting any younger, and there are so many books I want to write.

Okay, I want some interaction here. If you could write just one novel, what would you want it to be about? I'd next like to write an anti-war "war" novel, though I don't know if I'm up to it. Maybe the next "Tropic of Cancer". Oh, yeah, I'd love the research for that. "Lolita" perhaps? Though I'm not a pompous Russian ex-aristocrat. So many ideas, so little time.


Blogger David Matthews said...

If I could write a novel, it would be something Dostoevskyan, maybe a contemporary version of The Idiot. When I try fiction, it comes out more a literary version of an Eric Rohmer film, of which some Hollywood director whose name I don't recall said, "I saw a Rohmer film. It was like watching paint dry." I should stick to poetry, probaby not much market for the fiction.

11:05 PM  

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