One of the Ten (or so) Commandments of blogging. I broke it. Sort of. I was still blogging on occasion, but over at Bad Menagerie, the awesome space I share with a few of my wildly talented and creative critique partners.
And then life happened. My father passed away, my father-in-law passed away and my eldest son graduated from college, all in a 6 month span. Those events are all on that “Life Stresses” list, and boy lemme tell you, they belong there. I kept writing, but not with the same vim.
The sad truth was I’d fallen out of love with Cate and Gabriel. There was something wrong with them. Or, it wasn’t them, it was me. Half way through major revisions, I threw up my hands. I was tired of using a crowbar on the plot, tired of Cate and Gabriel living in my head. It became pretty clear there was some super-sekrit sekrit about the revision process, and I didn’t know what it was. So I
kicked it off a cliff set them aside.
But the longer it sat, the less interested in it I grew, which was a bit worrisome. I’ve invested years in that book. It had been betaed and worked, and betaed and worked again.
So I did something that would hold my feet to the fire, something I’d never done: I signed up for a local conference and prepared to pitch my novel to agents. Naturally, that meant I had to have my novel ready. So what did I do? I wrote a draft of a different (short) novel. I wrote flash stories and short stories and non-stories from prompts. And then I wrote a novelette. (What is a novelette anyway? We didn’t have novelettes when I was in school. There was novel, novella and short story. But I digress…) I wrote a 20K story. I called it my long-short, and it turned out not-bad. I even subbed it. I got my writing juices flowing freely again.
But still no desperate passion for the novel I was scheduled to pitch, and time was running out. I decided to hold my nose and peek at what happened while it sat stewing for those months. Not much, outwardly, but it aged better than I’d anticipated. I laughed when I read parts of chapter 1, things looked better than I’d remembered. I kinda liked it again. So I got back to work, whipped things into shape, wrote a decent pitch and synopsis, and pitched the thing. And to my shock, other people seemed to like it, too.
The theme of this blog is kicking myself out of my lane. Take chances. Get uncomfortable. I did that by going to the conference, but also by stepping away from the book I’d been immersed in for so long. I found out something a lot of writers know, but until you’re faced with it, it’s hard to believe: sometimes things have to cook in their own juices for a long time. Which isn’t to say that “stewing” novels don’t turn rancid, or wind up big mold-covered lumps. That happens all too often. But sometimes things just need to be left alone to let the flavors blend. Sometimes all they need is a poke and a stir.
We’ll see if it’s tasty in the end or not, but either way, I’m back in my lane, a fine place to be for now.