WRITING A NOVEL: START TO FINISH, ENTRY FIVE
TREES BE DAMNED or TOO MANY SEXUAL REFERENCES IN A BLOG ABOUT WRITING
I'ts not the size that counts. Doing my very small part to take out a forest.
I ended the week at 3,999 words. I’ve printed this thing out, read it, read it again, crossed this out, enhanced that, went back and back—which is against the rules of writing—to the same material before moving on. But screw that rule. I CAN’T move on until I have what came before it in an ACCEPTABLE place. It’s not perfect, but I have all my material lined up. I MUST have my characterization consistent, their actions, the time of day, the weather, the goals, the dialogue, the freaking color of shirt their wearing—everything—consistent. Writing anything of length is like telling the biggest lie of your life. You’re on trial for murder and you did it. Shit, THEY know you did it. But you have to keep all these details in your innocent story straight, you must maintain your credibility in at least one juror’s mind. For all it takes, is one to believe in you. Same thing with trying to get published. I have to convince just one agent or publisher to believe in me. I must have them read past five sentences in my book, maybe even read a paragraph. Then maybe a page, then maybe the entire first chapter. Believe in me!
So, yes, I break that little rule. It is a good rule though, if followed correctly. You don’t want to lose focus of the ends you mean to meet but spinning your writing wheels (unnecessary alliteration) with editing. I’m talking about consistency, getting your traction back into the meat of the story before moving on. Your voice, your feel as you write. Hell, think of it as stretching before a run. If you don’t run, think of it as foreplay. Ha!
Print it out, take a pen to it, input the changes and enhancements, ignore the grammar. Print it out again, take it to work in your lunch bag. Take it onto the toilet with you. On the bus. To the gym when you jog or sit in the sauna. Just keep it with you and in your mind. Keep printing, keep scribbling.
You can’t be a writer and want to save trees. To hell with them. You want to see an en masse printing of your novel, you want the National Park Service pissed off at you. So print away.
As I was running through my first chapter I thought about what sort of feedback it would receive. A writer should do that. What is the reader going to think? What assumptions will they make about the next thing to happen? What do they think of Thaddeus? What do they want for him? Most importantly, is he likeable? Writing is a business that tests your trust, you’re faith in others. On the one hand, you want positive feedback. On the other, you want honest feedback. But who do you trust? And if they are kind enough to give honest feedback which highlights negative aspects of your piece or areas they feel can be improved, who are they to say so? What credentials do they gave. If they’re a college professor, are they a good one? Have they been published anyway? If so, was it a good book? Does earlier said positive reader just want to get in your pants? Are they afraid of giving anything less than positive review because they want a positive review from you? Are you just masturbating your own ego by providing it to people you know will give you a glowing review?
--I just said masturbating in a blog about writing…
Talk about the trust and rejection, the irony of wanting to trust for honest feedback, but the ire at sometimes hearing it. You’re an unsatisfiable bitch. So, I’m posting just my first two paragraphs. I would appreciate some honest feedback. If you’d like to read more, let me know. I won’t let you, but let me know. If you’d put this book back on the shelf and forget it before you’ve finished checking out with your new issue of MAD magazine in hand, let me know. And if you’d like to offer me your first paragraphs of anything you’re writing for my honest feedback, I promise, even if you destroy my first paragraph with brutal honesty, if yours merits a glowing masturbatory review (that was completely unnecessary and illogical) I’ll let you have it.
Until next week…
Wind lashed at Thaddeus Pulliam, the driving rain cooling him as he pulled the mud heavied rope against the young tree. His lungs burning and hands gone numb, he allowed the fat rope to sag momentarily as he recaptured any remaining strength. Slapping rain from his eyes, he stared proudly, determinedly at the white spot of naked tree, the bark long ago worn away smooth by the rope and his pulling. Lightening strung about the sky and Thaddeus imagined the energy infusing into his body, charging him like a battery for another pull. Quickly, he dug into the mud with the side of his military boots then braced for the next pull. His lungs burned and his forearms twitched. In truth, the last thing Thaddeus wanted to do was pull the rain slickened rope another time. But he’d not win the tug-of-war without training and the tree had not been worn smooth by thinking about another pull. And he had to win. At all costs. He wouldn’t face another day knowing he’d given up with another pull left inside. He’d never pull the tree down, he was fairly certain of that. And that was fine. He’d damn sure try though. Thunder sounded against his back prefacing a lightening strike behind the shed, a mere 20 yards away. Thaddeus yelled at the rain and the mud and the tree, squatted and pulled. The tree bent and Thaddeus screamed at it, smiling as he took another inch of ground from it in a sidestep. He pulled, stepped, and fell hard onto the tore up ground.
The back porch light flashed the usual two-times code. It was time to come in. With a growl, Thaddeus released the rope and stumbled to the back porch. The muscle tissue in his legs pounded, all flushed with blood as they began an immediate recovery. All the exertion gone, it became suddenly apparent to Thaddeus that this was a cold November rain. Under cover of the porch, he stripped off his boots and sweat suit, stopping at his underwear. The door parted open and without looking at him, his daughter handed out a towel. He dried himself then stepped inside.“Thank you, hon.”