Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Smell-o-vision Novel?

The aroma of imagination can sometimes smell like Hawaiian sweet bread and cranberry stuffing, Thanksgiving turkey, and homemade apple pie. Today was a blissful day as I prepped my recipes for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. It wasn’t just blissful because I was avoiding the papers stacked up by my desk that needed to be graded, but it was blissful because I’m pondering a new book. What better way to brood and mull than while thinly slicing and layering apples into a perfect Thanksgiving pie?

Creation is a process that can feel so wonderful. Today, I watched my recipes move from idea to plan to finished, and I could tell by the way my husband’s head kept turning toward the kitchen that my final products were successful. Why can’t writing be like that?

A hunger pushes us to begin, but a recipe card for the novel you want to write just doesn’t exist. It’s a bit unfair really. Or maybe it’s not unfair. Maybe it’s so gloriously adventurous, so wild, so emancipating, so bohemian… Or maybe that’s just me hyperbolizing to make myself feel better.

This journey that we take to write and to publish is not an easy one. I occasionally have the passing notion to give it up, to wonder about my own sanity to attempt such travails. The self-doubt always passes though. The craving for words always starts once again.

So as I sit waiting on literary agents to profess my brilliance or give me a chance, the new novel brews and bubbles. My summer’s adventures of Hungarian restaurant owners feeding us “house specials” of lamb, chicken, and pork with a side of whiskey at 10 a.m.; of wading through knee-high grasses to reach ancient castles; of torrential thunderstorms that didn’t hold us back – we, the ever-determined tourists; of bolting at full speed through train stations surrounded by every language but our own; and all of our other ventures all discover their purpose now.

Either way, I wish my computer would occasionally emit majestic fragrances of apple pie and Thanksgiving turkey. That way, I’d know that this next idea or that project I’ve been working on for years has the hope of being absolutely delicious.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And the Characters Take Over...

Isn’t it weird how characters can take control of a project, and you as the writer are suddenly just a tool in process of creation, like a brush in an artist’s hand? This has happened to me many times through the years, but most recently on a revision of my thriller manuscript. There were a few tweaks I planned on making, but as I reviewed my pages, strengthening and tightening my prose, my characters unexpectedly began to flirt.

Maybe sitting untouched and lonely in a computer file for months without any attention led them to personal explorations when I wasn’t looking; maybe they just needed time to grow on each other. A major age gap was abruptly forgotten, as the dialogue dripping from my female lead’s tongue was not that of her age. She had been younger this whole time, and I had pigeon-holed her else-ware. The poor woman was probably screaming at me to ID her this whole time, like a girl on the brink of her 30th birthday buying beer.

But now I know. My characters corrected me. Ages now accurate, love interest defined, they flirted and playfully bantered across my pages, creating a sexiness my manuscript had lacked. What fun!

As an update, I finished my edits today. What version of my novel this is I couldn’t tell you, easily past draft five. Looking back, it seems so odd that I felt proud of my “finished” book in the spring of 2008. It was an accomplishment, but now it’s finally ready. I think… I hope…

Writing: what a beautifully schizophrenic, maniacal process.

Has this ever happened to you?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

For the cold, cozy, curl-up-on-the-couch days ahead...

Now I will sadly admit that a hectic year hasn’t allowed me to read many 2010 book releases. I’m still catching up on 2008 and 2009, as well as working on the biggest release of 2012 (a writer can dream, right?).

But for those of us always adding to our reading list of books we just have to read, I thought the following lists were pretty interesting:

Cold breezes have begun along with those wet nights that make you want to just stay home and curl up on the couch, a cup of tea, and a cozy blanket. Winter is coming soon. After the holiday madness that ensues every year, there are those months of cold, of tucking away from the world with a good book.

I know it’s only November, and I suppose those slow winter days are still far in the future, but after a year of busy, the idea of me, my couch, and some of the above titles just sounds a bit glorious, doesn’t it?

And just in case you, like me, have those aspirations to be on these lists in a few years, check out James River Writers’ Best Unpublished Manuscript Contest:

Happy reading and writing everyone!