Monday, September 3, 2007


Despite that I spent my morning sending out an email announcement for PIPER REED NAVY BRAT, I got quite a bit of writing done today. The novel I'm working on has been my most difficult. I think it's because I've gone about the process all wrong.

Usually I write a complete first draft at a quick pace. Then I let it cool before attempting the second draft. Each draft I start at page one and end on the final page before starting again.

That's not the way I've tackled this novel. The main character has been with me since 1997. I was actually working on the story of that character's son. When I realized I needed to explore the father's motivation, I took a day off from the son's story and wrote a character study on the father. My mission--What was he like as a child. I discovered he was fascinating, so much so I decided I needed to write his story first. I put the son's story aside and began to write. Then I had the crazy notion to weave the son's story with the father's. At first, I loved the idea, but soon became overwhelmed. It didn't help that my house was a complete wreck(a reflection of what was going on in my mind.)

To avoid cleaning the house, I packed my research books, my notebooks and yellow pads and rented a ranch house for a few days. The ranch was serene and snowy--the perfect setting for a writer. Unfortunately there was also a television in the house with about two-hundred stations. I avoided it for a few hours, but when I wasn't making any headway on the story, I decided to watch Oprah. The only problem was that Oprah wasn't on any of the two-hundred stations. The BBC however was. Later I found a twenty-four hour fitness station. It's so much more fun to watch people do yoga than doing it myself. Finally around midnight I turned the television off, disgusted by my procrastination. The next day, inspiration struck--inspiration for another book. I put my manuscript aside and started on Part of Me.

This might be okay except that it had already happened several times over the years. I'd put the story down and start another. "Maybe you're just not ready to write that book," some well-meaning people would tell me.

A couple of years ago, I picked up the manuscript and started again. Along the way I was tempted to tuck it away in a drawer for another story, but this time I faced my fear and told myself that if I was going to put it down, again, put it down for good. Or else this would be the book I would never write and would forever be attempting to do so.

That's all it took. I loved the people in the story too much to abandon them and from that day on, I've been committed. I'm not going to lie and tell you that I've been writing on it every day, but even the days that I didn't write, the story was with me and I was thinking about the characters.

The last two weeks I've thought about how this book has been a struggle and I've come to the conclusion that when you write a novel you should stay with the story until it's finished. Otherwise it's like a bad relationship where the guy floats in and out of your life on a whim and you let him. There's no commitment.

So today I sat in my bedroom chair and kept my commitment.

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