Sunday, December 5, 2021

When The Book Fights back

It has now happened with each of the three novels I've written, an occurrence so regular that this has now become part of my writing process, however frustrating it may be. The outline done, I get into my 6 pages a day routine, chugging along quite nicely, the story going where its supposed to, I'm happy as Larry and then BLAM! Major roadblock.

The story doesn't feel right; the characters sound wooden and hollow and I don't feel like the book is saying anything important. What follows next are days of stress, turmoil and serious self-doubt. What the fuck am I doing?

I'm writing, or at least I was. Right now, stuck as I am on this page fucking 60, I can't stand to look at it, let alone write anything. I question everything: my commitment to the work; the absurd reality of telling lies on a page for people to read. I hate the rapid taptaptap PAUSE taptaptaptaptaptapiity-fucking-tap that comes from my wife's side of the office as she happily types out her latest novel. I try to drown that noise out with Huey Lewis and the News or Bon Jovi, but when that doesn't work I call an audible and head to the couch where I spend the rest of the day snuggling between the kittens and watching Kitchen Nightmares on YouTube.

Thank fuck for YouTube.

It has saved me on many an occasion when the dreaded page 60 has struck. That Chapter and his videos of true crime cases, solved and unsolved; The Shaniacs and the Boogara's once of Buzzfeed Unsolved and now of Watcher. Then there are the live feeds of court cases the world over thanks to channels such as Law and Crime Network and Court TV. 

But you should be writing. Why aren't you writing? You're not writing.

No. I'm not writing because after 60 pages (roughly 20K words) I know there's something not right with the story I'd roughly outlined. This is one reason why I don't like to outline in detail and just put a few bullet points down for each chapter - because if it goes off the rails early on, my mind would be constantly trying to get it back on to that line, the destination the same.

Dirty Little Secret started out as a single murder with strong supernatural overtones that would be investigated with the help of a paranormal investigator - and that person would become the recurring main character on which the series would be based. From Sorrow's Hold, the second book in the Louise Miller series, was supposed to have wicked clues left with each body that needed to be decoded Dan Brown style. For the first 60 pages this is how each of those books went, but then the pause button was hit and the stories tweaked as they turned in new and better directions.

And taking a break for a few days certainly helped.

It has helped again. I've read more Lin Anderson (now onto book seven and loving the direction the series is taking), watched a lot of NCIS - as far as the free seasons on Amazon Prime allowed (15 if you're wondering) - and let the story churn and burn in the background, sifting through the story line, keeping what works and letting what isn't important fall away.

Tomorrow I get back on the horse and should have a finished draft by early January. I had planned to write the whole book in December, but (and I think this was adding to my page 60 nightmare) I can't just churn a book out in a month. I'd like to and I wish I had the skills to do that, but that just isn't me. It's not how I write and it's not how I want to write. I've cleared my head of a lot of the extraneous shit that was taking up space and I'm confident I can sit back down and get on with writing the book.

At least that's the plan today. Tomorrow that might change.

Fucking Librans!

Cheers - JP

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