The Writer Takes Time Off

So I made a big introductory post, spent many hours pouring over old posts and reformatting them, wrung my hands over how many words I’ve written about video games1oh my god I’m a dork and then…


Okay, that’s not true.  I have my usual thing over a Rose City Transplants.  But in other writing, this past week has been a bit light.  A lot of people would say – have said – that I need to take some time off.  I finished the second draft of my novel manuscript in May, sent it off to a few folks and when their comments came back in, I 1) recognized their concerns and admitted that I knew these to be issues and 2) lost my fucking mind trying to fix said issues.

I’m not sure if this is normal or not.  I can see it, logistically, that the mind needs to time to decompress from the rush of finishing a massive piece of work like a novel.  Even if Jest’s story only weighs in at 69,000 words, that’s still 230 pages of text that has to follow a logical timeline, set up characters, their wants and desires, challenge them and then meet some sort of resolution.  Jest’s second draft suffers from a lack of many of that, with some character growth and a conclusion all mashed into a final three chapters.  Over the course of that draft, my goals with her and ecclesiastical companion changed in significant ways.  To shift gears like that mid draft and have it coming all out smelling like roses is a hard job.

Which is what the next draft will look to accomplish, but I just needed time away from the story to get my head right.  I went through some crazy levels of revision, talking over minor plot points with friends as if these were world-shattering issues that needed to be resolved.  Does Jest fall in love with Sen?  How deep does the rabbit hole of her relationship with Protharious go before she starts to pull out from the insanity that he brings?  When does the sword come into play?

And all the time, those friends were saying, “Dude.  Stop.  Relax.  Write something else.”

So, I took time to get this site up and running.  I rewrote a few old pieces, some of which will be making their way back here.  I dreamt up a few new stories, including a Portland-based ninja that volunteers her nights manning phone banks for a fictionalized Basic Rights Oregon, and a Facebook summoning spell gone horribly, horribly wrong.  (The later piqued the interest of the amazingly creative Hal— Emma who is now playing writer’s tennis with the story.  To say I’m excited is to be understated.)

And then…

Then I stopped.  I wrote some words on RCT, scribbled a little bit this week on Jest to get some of those juices flowing again, and then today, wrote three thousand words on Jest’s story, reimagining a new start, re-upping the stakes for the crass woman with a sword, and finding new ways to make her life shitty.

We’re such well-adjusted people, us writers.

Lucy Day lent me a book on rewriting novels that I’m eager to dive into. With the rain coming in furiously over the last few days — no doubt a result of cloud seeding and chemtrails — this weekend seems like an excellent time to devour that book and get serious about this third draft.

One thing that said to me often that I wasn’t “done” is that I’ve yet to develop a good “elevator pitch” for the book.  It’s difficult because this story is a very character-driven story, but you still need to boil down a book into a good pitch to sell it.  Maybe I’m just not as well read as I need to be, where I can adequately describe Jest’s story as “X, but with swords.”  The best I’ve been able to get is that this introduction to Jest Rovanna is a story about a woman coming to grips with her wanderlust.  But that sells it short.  Jest is in fine tradition of a classic anti-hero; uncouth, deeply flawed and resistant towards the hero’s journey.  I want her to fail, again and again, because she’s not the Chosen One, she’s not supernaturally gifted, she’s just a woman with a fast mind and a faster mouth.  Central to her story is the constant interference of Protharious, who is supernaturally gifted, may be something of a Chosen One, and has a much quicker mind and is the wound that Jest can’t stop picking at.  If I can get that right, I’d like to think that I’ve got a good book.

Okay enough rambling about Jest.  I promise you’ll see some of the other stuff up soon.

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