Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Two Days

Only two days to go before we head off. This will be our first long trip without our son along. He's staying behind to hit a concert with his friends and to watch the place and care for the cats.

At any rate, I won't post much for the next couple of days before the long silence. I'll post from the springs if I can locate WiFi. If not, the blog will go static for a bit.

n the writing side, I'm closing in on the ending of my current novel project. I've been trying to write this novel for many years. More years than I'd like to admit, frankly. When I started it I was with my second literary agent--a woman who, while she was trying to market my work, went crazy and had to be committed. She later died.

There was something about the novel that gave me fits. Most writers, I think, would have tossed it in the trunk and forgotten about it. But I rarely give up on something like that--something into which I'd already invested a lot of thought and effort. The first chapter came to me in a flash and I created it in a mad dash of writing that lasted a couple of hours. It was pretty darned good stuff. The larger plot didn't come to me until a few days had passed. And over the weeks it evolved into something that really bugged me and which I kept convincing myself I didn't really want to write about: racism.

Yeah, on the surface it's a pulp fiction horror yarn, but there's that underlying current of the stronger theme flowing along beneath the cover story. And the more I wrote the more it bothered me. Who was I to tackle the subject matter? What was I doing mucking about in that territory?

So I kept talking myself into putting it aside in favor of other projects. At 10K words I set it aside. But it kept nagging at me and a year or so later I dusted it off and went at it again. Then, at around 20K words I set it aside once more, bothered by the theme of it. A couple of years went by, but every so often I'd open the file and take a look at what I'd written. I'd have to admit to myself that it was pretty good work. And the idea wouldn't leave me alone. There was the kid. There was the mountain. There was the couple who found the lost child. The sheriff was stalking about trying to figure out what was going on, what was eating at his town. Ghosts were dogging the heels of the deputy who'd accidentally killed them. They were nagging the deputy to kill the lost kid. Why?

They wouldn't leave me alone. Every few months I'd resurrect Tommy, Martin & Amy Braun, Ben Whitaker, Chief Brace, Wiley McCain, Rose Theron, the Tows, the dead Rickley brothers, and the monsters that crept through the mountain town. They kept bugging the shit out of me. I've said before that the difference between an amateur writer and a professional writer is the ability to keep writing when that initial rush of enthusiasm and creativity has faded. The pro will keep on going when it becomes work. The amateur will not do that. The amateur will surrender and leave the hard labor to people who have the tenacity to try.

That's what has kept this project ticking along. I admit that I gave up on it a number of times. I just didn't know what to do with it, or the book itself became something more than I'd intended--it turned into a task I wasn't sure I could handle.

But I kept at it. Today, I passed the 73K word mark. It should finish out at around 90K words, so I'm really in the home stretch. I'll try to work on it while I'm on vacation. At the end of the day when I come back to the travel trailer from a full schedule of snorkeling and canoeing maybe I'll have the energy to sit at the keyboard and work on those last few chapters. That's what a professional writer would do.

Andy, in front of a live oak tree. Somewhere in Florida. I'm not quite sure where it was, but I think it was around Anastasia State Park, and we had to use the canoe to get there. Or maybe it was just before we headed off in the canoe for a day-long paddling trip. Taken, I think, in 2007.

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