Oh boy. What a nervy day. I got up early because I couldn’t sleep. Today was the day I picked to start the new novel so I was eager to see how it would all pan out.
I had breakfast and drove to the coffee shop to meet my writing buddy where I often worked. About six half-starts later I had nothing to show for my effort except a blank page. Absolutely nothing. Hoo boy, I knew this would be a hard book to write but I didn’t expect this. So I packed up and went to lunch at a Lebanese restaurant. I came back home with more than a little starch knocked out of my sails. This was not a good start at all. I had the story in my mind but for the life of me I couldn’t find an entry into the story.
I am not writing this like another Haxan story. If I was doing that I believe it would have been much easier to find a beginning. I am trying to do something more with this book.
After coming home I grabbed a cigar and a cup of coffee and went into the backyard to do some hard thinking. I looked over some of my notes. I was still confident the story was good. But where was the entry point? I thought back to the messed up starts I had encountered that morning. Something didn’t seem right about them. Maybe I had something in the wrong place? Maybe this was a structural problem? I was a little stressed and like any other writer suddenly all the doubts began to ball up inside me. I knew them for what they were, though, and wasn’t ready to freak out.
I went back inside and talked to a couple of good writer friends, Jennifer Brozek and Mary-Grace Ellington, who talked me off the edge. After convincing me not to jump I wrote the epigram to the novel and sent it to them to read. (The epigram is pretty important. It’s a structural pivot point for the book. If it doesn’t work I’m in trouble.) They both liked it and had suggestions. It was a start. It was something I could work with and polish as the months wear on. I began the first chapter and knocked out seven more pages. (Edit: Ha, knocked out. Yeah, right. It wasn’t that easy.)
Whew! So far I think I can work with what I have done. It’s nothing more than a shovelful and that’s not enough to build a castle from, but it is a start. Tomorrow I’ll read what I have written today and try and finish the first chapter. That should give me a better perspective as well.
Kind of a long post about nothing, but I have a start on the novel and I think it’s something I can build on. I don’t have a title yet, just calling it The Sunset of Destruction, the Ashes of the West. I don’t expect that to hold up, it’s just a working title, but it gives me constant reminder of the underlying theme and color of the novel.
Long day, but so far so good, I think. Hope.
2 Replies to “Started a new novel today, and one almost-nervous breakdown later….”
My two cents (and I add with the caveat of take whatever advice you can utilize and disregard the rest).
It sounds like this is a massive undertaking for you and that’s awesome and I know it’s going to be good. One thing I would suggest is for now is to relax and just have fun. This is something I had to remind myself while working on Empyrea. It’s easy to get intimidated by the grandness of the project. I had to remind myself why I enjoyed the project and why I fell in love with it.
Just for the sake of getting started, I would say just relax and enjoy it. The first draft isn’t the final draft and once you have the skeleton down, you can always add to the story, modify it as you see fit.
TLDR: I hear you. Hang in there.
I think that’s part of the problem, really. I usually approach writing as something akin to digging ditches and not much fun. I do it because I have all these words inside me that want to get out. You are right, however, in that this is a bigger project than anything else I’ve ever done. I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s outside my comfort zone and that is the challenge I love. I really appreciate your support; it means a lot! 🙂