Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It Won't Write Itself

It suddenly strikes me that this is November, NaNoWriMonth and all, and while there are thousands (or tens of thousands) of folks feverishly churning out novels, I'm not so much pushing as hard as I could on my current work in progress. Which is fine, actually, because even though I'm not ratcheting up the word count on a daily basis, I've been thinking a lot about the story and I count that as writing time and effort. All of which is a long wind-up to the pitch, which is that I worked my way through a tricky passage at lunchtime today, and my heroine is back in the DR Congo after a detour through a confessional at St. James' cathedral. What larks for Miss Lark! By the end of the week I will have this chapter finished, by gum. Because if I don't do it, who will?

Recently I've given thought to a couple of ideas regarding my writing. First, it becomes ever more clear that each of my novels is going to be quite a bit different from whatever I've written before, and I doubt very much that I'll settle down and write a particular type of book in a particular way. That would be dull, I think. I'm less interested in showing what I can do with a novel than I am in discovering what's to be done with one, if you see the distinction.

I've also been thinking about the idea I have that what I attempt in novels is to say something true (though not necessarily factual, if you see the difference). I begin to wonder if, like Flannery O'Connor, I am limiting my observations to a certain narrow field of truths and if, having recognized that, it is incumbent upon me to broaden my horizons in some way, and if so, I wonder how and how much. I don't have any answers to that one. My plan is to let the answers arise through the course of the writing, while I continue to doggedly pursue whatever ideas interest me and attempt to say nothing dishonest. If nothing else, it's a plan.


  1. I'm going on hiatus because I can't get any writing done at all, and I realize it's my own fault for following so many blogs anyway, but that's my truth and I'm owning it.

    As for truth in writing, although it's not necessarily my truth, it does belong to the character so that makes it true, and I suppose it would resonate with some readers. Which is what this writing thing is all about, eh?

    If I do not see you, please have yourself a very fine Thanksgiving, and quite possibly Christmas. I know not when I return. I have a lot of work to do.

  2. Anne: Yes, the character's truth; that's the very thing. Or the story's truth, maybe, which to me is the same thing because character, plot, theme etc are all one in my mind.

    Mostly I'm trying to decide if I've been narrow-minded regarding the truths I see fit to illuminate in my stories. I think I have.

    Have a swell holiday season. Stay out of trouble and do good work!

  3. This is why your writing astounds me - because you think in these spectrums. It's why it keeps surprising me the more I read of your work, I think.

  4. A simpler explanation might be that I'm easily bored so I constantly have to find something new to do. I just dress it up in the language of the intellectual but really I'm a five year-old who's dissatisfied with the contents of his toybox. Or something. Anyway, you should see what I have planned for my Variations on a Theme story. It will be ubercool, I guarantee!