Falling in Love With Your Own Writing

Joe’s Post #177

Listen to what Boromir says.

Listen to what Boromir says.

Is there anything better than falling in love? What about falling in love with your writing? Is that a good thing?

Well, no. No, it’s not.

It’s something I’ve been struggling with as I rewrite my novel, Yager’s War, for submission.

Set in 1940, it tells the story of a Chicago detective in Holland trying to find his missing sister before the Germans invade.

When I first wrote it, it had more of a mystery feel. Dead bodies. Gun battles. Lots of tough guy talk. Some hot sex. But from my writing group and my dedicated readers, it became clear that I needed to shift it a bit, and focus on the humanity of the story. Less Jack Reacher and more Gorky Park.

Why? Because I’m trying to write a deeper story. A story with emotional weight.

I spent a TON of time reworking my first 50 pages to see if I could hit this goal, and after many tears, much staring off into space, and a lot of bugging a published writer friend of mine, I think I finally got the right feel to the story. Good pacing. Some heart. Compelling characters in a compelling story.

If my novel was a kitchen, this is what I would like it to look like.

If my novel was a kitchen, this is what I would like it to look like.

For most of 2017, I’ve been hard at work recrafting the rest of the novel to be as good as those first 50 pages. It’s been hard and, frankly, a lot of the novel has been totally rewritten. It’s sort of like doing a kitchen renovation where all you want to do is replace the sink and end with redoing the counters, cabinets, floors, lights and adding a 75” TV, cuz every kitchen should have one.

But perhaps the toughest part has been letting go of some of my best writing. There was one scene that I loved. I loved writing it the first time. I loved reading it the second time. And the third.

It was powerful. It was emotional. Hell, I think I even gotz all the grammar right.

But here’s the horrible truth, a truth that we writers must face sometimes.

It no longer works.

The story has evolved in such a way that this beautifully written passage was no longer relevant.

It’s very sad.

It was hard to let it go.

But then I remembered what someone told me about letting go of things I’d collected in my house. You know, the sentimental things – the ashtray that my mom used to use, the chair my grandfather made that was now nearly in tatters, the 10,000 VCR tapes that I’d collected over the years… the things to which you attach memories, the things that have meaning but take up an awful lot of space and you no long need.

Well, someone said take a picture of those items so you’ll always have the memory. And, you know what? That worked like a charm. A friend saved me from being a hoarder.

So I applied the same principal to that nice bit of writing. I didn’t take a picture of it, but cut it out of the story and pasted it into a file called, “Things Joe Can’t Delete but Loves.” Like my original Sim City from, like, 1989 which hides somewhere in my computer games file.

Doing this allows me to move on.

And, hey, it can be resurrected.

And, hey, it can be resurrected.

In my mind, I imagine my kids looking at this after I die and saying, my goodness, Joe REALLY could write. Who knew?

Rest in Peace, Good Writing.

Rest in Peace.

Deconstructing deconstructing

Joe’s Post #114

In Paula’s most recent post, she raised a good point. Are we writing more about writing than writing? Or analyzing writing instead of writing?

The answer is simple.

http://aaronmritchey.com/2013/04/11/my-completely-unauthorized-interview-with-steampunk-goddess-gail-carriger/

aaronmritchey.com

Yes. Yes we are.

But it’s a process we’re using to get back to the job of actually writing a book. Put another way, how do you break out of a slump?

Hence, the idea of deconstructing a book. But what book?

Reading crap is the worst thing to do. It makes you wonder why your novel wasn’t published when some piece of garbage was. Oh, I know there are reasons for it, chiefly being that publishers (rightly) always consider the bottom line or, in other words, will it sell?

Reading a good novel, though, could help us get back to the idea that words and ideas matter.

GorkyParkI can’t speak for everyone, but that’s working for me. I’m looking at Gorky Park. I’m reading it slowly, seeing where he puts in his hooks, how he works his pacing and description and manages to keep a complicated plot understandable. On page 1, our hero is looking at three mutilated dead bodies and the evil KGB dude beside him says, “One day that’ll be you.”

I mean, wow. So I stopped reading and made notes on how I can do something like that in my story.

Then we see our hero try to get out of investigating the case. Now this is not normal. Not normal at all. It’s a massive ‘refusal of the call’, and yet his reasons are sound. No one messes with the KGB and this case screams KGB. If he takes it on, it could ‘lead places’, places that could get our hero in serious poo.

So, again, wow. All this in 3 pages.

I wrote more notes. I remembered that I needed to get the plot and stakes going fast. Like by page 5, fast. It’s something that’s easy to forget. Put hero in poo and make it super smelly.

arkadyI read on. Our hero’s fighting his inner self. The inner self has many questions about these murders. Despite his wise ‘self’ thinking he’s got to find a way to dump this case, he just can’t. It’s not in him. He will find the truth, no matter the cost.

Damn, I’m hooked. Aren’t you?

More notes are made. An opening scene is coming to mind. Characters are forming.

This is working.

Oh, this may not be for everyone. I get that. But for me it’s like doing a warm up before doing heavy exercise (not that I do that, but, you know, I’m, just saying.)

*****

This week, call it week 2

Watched Walking Dead. OMG good. Want to learn about great writing, take a look at that show.

Outlines Done – 0

Pages written on New Book – 0

# turkeys eaten – 0!!! Not a one. Nada. So sad.

# of new friends made on Twitter – 102

# of new friends who offered to sell me 1000 followers for $49.99 – 86

Days to SiWC – 7