What’s that Strange Quiet?

You ever notice how when you’re around an intrusive noise–the washing machine out of balance and thumping, your neighbor using a chainsaw next door, the kid in the airplane in front of you screaming nonstop because his ears hurt–that when it stops, the silence is loud?

Monday was the first day in months that I had time and space to write but didn’t.

Boy, was it a lazy day. I kept wondering why I had so much time to get things done.

“So,” you ask, “after all the shit you’ve given us about writing every day, what are you doing not writing?”

Well, I have an excuse. It’s part of “the process.”

On Friday, I finished the first draft of Sir Kay. Now it has to sit for at least a week before I pick it up again. Get a little distance. Then I will read it critically with a red pen, marking everything that needs changing. Content–errors in the plot line, low tension, boring sections–as well as noticeable weakness of wordcraft (I don’t do all the polishing during the read by any means. Just mark the places that need it). Then begins the 1st rewrite.

Before then, I have only 2 tasks to accomplish:

  1. Get a copy ready to read. That means amassing all the comment’s I’ve received in one document and printing it out. With Avalon, S.C. I started with SusanH’s infamous ‘green edits’ and typed in Kate’s comments plus everything I’d gotten back from writers’ groups and first draft readers into that document. Plan to do the same thing this time. However, I can’t really do it this week.  I’d be evaluating the comments, which DOES NOT qualify as getting some distance. So that will be the first chore next Monday.
  2. Deciding what I’m going to write next.

I don’t really have a hard deadline to finish #2, but I should be starting outlines and character sketches for the next book next week. So it’s a pretty high priority.

I have it down to two choices, I think. One is to revise Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail and make it available for publication. It needs a rethink with my current “state of the writing art.” I’m simply better as a writer than I was when I touched it last. But an ever bigger problem is that it doesn’t gibe with the last 3 books. Halfway through Sir Kay, I had to rewrite the “History of the Holy Grail according to Rusty” so I could use it in that book and not destroy the entire premise of Bradley Schuster. Now I have the itch to get it done.

The other novel has been simmering in the back of my mind for months. The heroine (yes, she’s female) was the narrator of the book that I began before Avalon, S.C. and abandoned because it was far too serious and I wasn’t having fun writing it. You may have noticed that I don’t do serious all that well. But I really like the character. In the meantime she’s gotten mixed up with the Arthurian legend (I warned her, but typically she paid no attention) and acquired a pet.

Can I write a 1st Person novel with a female narrator? I have nightmares about having it seem authentic. Stella is phlegmatic (or maybe she is merely being encouraging). “You wrote Amy and Morgan 1st person in Strange Bedfellows. What’s the big deal?”

Here was the opening for that novel, by the way.

Call me Ishmael.

That’s not my name, of course.  But when you’re writing the Great American Novel and you’re not sure how to start, stealing a successful opening from somebody else is better than writing your own lame opening line.  And it seems more appropriate than “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” even if my name isn’t Ishmael.

If this weren’t supposed to be the Great American Novel and I was more like Emily Dickinson and less like Herman Melville–not that I could be much less like Herman Melville if I had a radical Melvillectomy–and writing a chapter in my memoir that would only be read by people who loved me and not literary critics looking for something new and insightful to poke a hole or two in the Great American Novel, I’d just start off by saying: I remember just like it was yesterday the first time I saw Joan.

That much at least is true.  I remember just like it was yesterday.

My name is Gwen, by the way.

Hopefully my subconscious is working dutifully on this problem. That’s where all the big decisions get made.

And no, she probably can’t keep the name ‘Gwen’ in an Arthurian-linked novel. That name’s taken (plus it was used sort of in Return from Avalon (and Points West).

call me ishmael2call me ishmael4


9 thoughts on “What’s that Strange Quiet?

  1. As far as opening lines go, I’m partial to . . .
    “Tonight at supper, over capon and relish, my father ruined my life.” (J. Anderson Coats in The Wicked and the Just)
    “Well, ‘that’ puts a wrap on sex and romance for tonight.” (SusanH in an incomplete WIP aka Logan)

    And I have absolute confidence in your ability to write a female POV–1st or 3rd person. Besides, your first readers will keep you on the straight and narrow. Or not, as appropriate.

    Also have confidence in your subconscious pointing the way. But why do I think it’s Bradley’s turn?

  2. Shouldn’t you always be challenging yourself? Go for the story you think would be more challenging.

    Love the photos. The sea dog looks a lot like my mother-in-law’s dog… sent it off to her. He doesn’t look like he’s suffering a bit of scurvy though.

      • Having two incomplete novels myself, I sure understand the quandary of deciding which one is first. But then life is like a box of chocolates isn’t it? Hmmm good line. 🙂

        As far as challenging, that’s why I did NaNo. Accepting a challenge in something I enjoy doing IS fun. Seems to me that challenges help us keep track of where we are and help us grow as writers. And the better I am at writing, the more I enjoy it. For me, Deep Blue is far closer to being done than Wanderer, (70K words and well more than 3/4 through the story, vs 40K words, complete… sort of… and badly in need of major restructuring.) So my choice is to finish Deep Blue before tackling the rewrite.

        But I value knowing both you and Stella because you both challenge me and I know I am a better writer today for it.

        Sounds to me like you are in a place I was back in October. Work on a major re-write of an existing piece or start something new? Personally I chose something new because a blank page for me is far more exciting than fixing something that is already written, but a mess. But only you know how much work BS is going to be. (Wow… did I just say that??? About Rusty???) So the question is, which story strikes your passion?

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