Last week was an interesting one as far as what I learned about myself as a writer of this dystopian piece. I did what Alane Ferguson said and mapped out my novel. Here’s what I learned: In this book I’ve gotten all the way to chapter ten. And then I have several bits and pieces–scene-ish type things. (At this point, I’m going to continue to write scene-ish type things, because I’m not quite sure how they should go in the book. You know the order. But I want to keep working. So when a scary-ish idea comes to me, I write that. Then when a romance-y-ish scene comes to me, I write that. And I’m thinking a lot. And worrying more.)
But Alane’s exercise showed me something I hadn’t known about my book.
With every novel I write things go kind of like this: I get an idea or a character or an emotion that inspires an idea or a character or an emotion and I start writing. I go along rather happily, enjoying getting to know this person and seeing what situation she’ll be in and just how hard it’s going to be for her.
After a while (and this ALWAYS happens) the excitement starts to wear away. It’s weird how the excitement of a new book and the icky middles kind of start right about the same time for me.
It’s a few chapters into the icky middles of a novel that I begin to think that I have no idea what I’m doing. Yes, I’ve written and published a book or two, but so what?! In the midst of the book, I am lost. I start to hate my writing life. Why? I’ve gotten to the HARD part. Sure, I’m still intrigued with what I’m doing (sort of), but the writing isn’t going along as easily because I’m getting more to the plotty-ish/middle-ish/hard-ish part of the book.
This happens with every national novel I have ever written, published or unpublished. I always get to this place.
Well, writing things out chapter-by-chapter per Alane’s suggestions I was able to see that yep, that’s where I am in the dystopian novel: Right smack dab at the beginning of the icky middles. For some reason I didn’t recognize the ‘place’ I was in the book. It makes sense though, you know, when I see the book structurally–written out–visual. And seeing this caused me to breathe a sigh of relief. Now that I know I’m in the icky middles, I don’t have to blame my lack of enthusiasm on genre. I can blame it on ME! Why? Because this is who I am as a writer. I’ve been here before. I recognize this place.
So, while I still struggle at least I know why. And I know that I can get through this. I have before.
Now for the 2nd part of this blog. I have an announcement!
We’re almost ready to start registration for the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. The website is nearly finished (woot woot). Cool news this time–We’ve changed VENUES!
Lisa Hale, Cheri Earl and I have a new place–a bigger place–for the conference. And while it means we’re doing everything on our own, it also means that we have a huge potential for growth.
So save the date: June 14-18, 2010, and look for more information to come.
PS Rather than name all of Alane’s books, I just put up the link to her website. Alane and I have known each other a gagillion years–and have been fast friends since the moment we met. A cool tidbit (to me) is that she was writing The Circle of Blood the same time I was working on The Chosen One. While these books are not the same, they both deal with polygamy. Alane and I shared ideas back and forth on these books, including research. So there.