Writing Update: Progress on the novel, and a side trip to Fort Griffin, TX in the works

Last week was the first time I had completely to myself. Well, not really, but I had enough time to myself to get past the initial (and for me problematic) creative phase of the novel and make real progress.

I am pretty happy with what I have accomplished so far on this project. I have a long way to go, of course. Writing a novel is like a marathon for me, not a sprint. So I approach it that way. Nevertheless, I feel I have a solid opening and can proceed from there without too much worry and second-guessing.

Hoo boy. This was a difficult novel to start. I had the darnedest time finding an entry point into the story. Well, that’s me as  a writer. I have trouble with beginnings. And middles. And endings. And titles. And…you see the problem.

Anyway, I feel good about what I have accomplished so far. I feel like I have a solid foundation. Here’s hoping.

As I work I am also planning side trips for research. I have a BIG trip planned in the spring along the Mexico-US border which is where much of the novel takes place. Google and Google Earth and Wikipedia can only do so much. I am reminded of my trip to Santa Fe when I visited La Fonda and realized I could see the Governor’s Palace across the square. I’m not saying that information was vital to me selling my Haxan novel to CZP earlier this year, but little things like that can and do help sometimes. Readers are smart. They can pick up on stuff like that quicker than you think. What I mean is, they can often spot B.S. so I try to keep that in mind.

Part of the novel takes place around Fort Griffin, TX. This is too far for a day trip so I am planning a quick run out there this weekend. I will go if the weather cooperates and bring back some pictures for you, maybe. I would like to do some camping, but I don’t think that’s going to be feasible.

All in all I’m feeling better everyday about the novel. Still don’t have a title. Working title is The Long Red Light of the West, which is a metaphor for murder. I don’t know if that title will hold up. I am very rarely wedded to titles. Maybe something better will come along or suggest itself as I write. Maybe I can find something else of note within the text.

That’s all part of process, I guess. Not worried about that right now. Too busy slipping into the full construct of the story right now.

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Conversing with Story: Selling same, and what to do next

Me: I sold a story!

Story: Congratulations. That’s a big accomplishment and very well deserved.

Me: I couldn’t have done it without you.

Story: Not to toot my own horn, but that’s pretty much true.

Me: It was only to a small market, though.

Story: So? What does that matter. Big or small, selling a story or having it accepted for publication is a really big thing. You know how many people never get their stories published?

Me: No, how many?

Story: Most never do. That’s how many.  So you have no reason to feel bad about the acceptance because it’s to a smaller market, even a non-paying one. The next story you write may be accepted by a larger market, or find a home in some other venue that will pay. Every time you write, every time you sell a story, you are advancing your craft. That’s how you write. That’s how you grow.

Me: I never thought of it that way.

Story: That’s because like most writers you’re not thinking long term. You only judge yourself by the now, by how many stories you have written, how many are submitted, how many have sold. You rarely take time to view yourself and your work through a longer lens. That’s not your fault. You should concentrate on writing. I’m only saying there is more to you, and your ability, than what you perceive on a moment to moment basis. I would go so far as to say every time you submit a story and see it rejected it’s still advancement. Writers don’t like to see failure as progress, but that’s only because they want to view their work as a zero sum game. Writing is not a zero sum game and it was never meant to be. Writing is deeper than that, but I can see you’re not paying attention to me.

Me: Thanks for the pep talk, but all I know at the moment is I am happy because I sold a story.

Story: Again, congratulations. Um…you know what comes next, right?

Me: I get to celebrate?

Story: Well, yes. You deserve to do that. But afterward you must come right back here.

Me: What for?

Story: So you can write the next story, of course.

Perseverance is the key to writing. Keep writing, keep submitting, and you will find success.

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