Thursday, March 01, 2007

Another respite . . . or banging my head

Back in November I joined Anne Gracie, Trish Morey, Bronwyn Jameson and Linda Brumley in our little home-grown version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

The idea was to take a flying leap at Flynn and Sara and see how much I could get done. The IDEAL was to get 50000 words done by the end of the month.

Of course some people actually do that -- and do it well -- and of course I never say never. But I know my own writing habits after 58 books, and I didn't imagine the 59th was going to be markedly different. I was right. And wrong.

I wrote 30 odd pages very quickly and then I hit a wall. I thought, I don't know these people well enough. And for me knowing them means being able to write them because otherwise it's like walking on water and, basically, I drown.

So I stopped. I went back. I wrote backstory. I wrote other stuff about them. I tried to understand who they were, figure out all their idiosyncracies and -- als0 -- I tried again to write the first chapter because the original first chapter didn't work. If it had worked I wouldn't have hit the wall, right?


Okay, so I spent 3 months (conservatively) rewriting the damn chapter. I wrote it this way, I wrote it that way. I wrote it every way imaginable. Jorge Luis Borges's Garden of the Forking Paths had nothing on my versions of the first chapter of Flynn and Sara. There is not a way I haven't written it. All for naught.

And so today, in desperation, I went back and re-read the stuff I wrote in November.

You know what? It works.

There is nothing at all wrong with it. Well, it can use some cleaning up. But basically it's fine. And it makes sense. And it fits with all the other stuff I learned about them in the past three months. And I have spent three months beating myself -- and Flynn and Sara -- up over nothing.

Of course I didn't know it was nothing while I was doing it. And I remember Gifts of the Spirit behaving exactly the same way -- badly. So badly that I stopped dead in chapter seven and wrote a whole different book (Marry Sunshine) before I could go back and see what was wrong with Gifts and fix it. And it was thinking about that this morning that made me go back and look at Flynn again because I remembered what I'd discovered re-reading Gifts: nothing was wrong with it, either.

It was just something in my head that couldn't get past where we were. Some distance. A bit of space. Another book in that case, and it all flowed again.

So I am desperately hoping that it all flows now. Hugh did that to me in his book, In McGillivray's Bed. I knew exactly what was going to happen in the first chapter. But I must have re-written it 150 times. Eventually it happened, just as I thought it would. But it took months to get there.

Do things like this ever happen to Nora Roberts? They must (well, once, maybe). But they can't happen often or she wouldn't write so many books.

Writing . . . a never-ending source of angst. What is it they say on those motivational tapes: Writing is easy and fun for me.

Yeah, right.

Check out Sid with his leprechaun on Kate Walker's blog. He looks so bored. But at least he sat still. I think he's sulking because he didn't get to go meet Archie at Ballyvolane.


Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Anne, I finished reading The Santorini Bride last night and wanted to say how much I loved it. Theo and Martha just tore at my heart; they are such warm and wonderful people. I adored Ted, too.

Now I can't wait to read Spence and Sadie's story.

03 March, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Thank you, Liz! I'm so glad you enjoyed their story. And Ted.

I hope that when Spence and Sadie come along we can have another contest. Spence would like doing a grooms' contest, I think. He's a competitive sort!

03 March, 2007  

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