“Writing is the only thing you like, and you hate writing.”
Adair Lara, You Know You’re a Writer When . . .
I realized the other day that I haven’t contributed to this blog since sometime last spring. And I haven’t done a great deal of reading, either. I’m down from devouring a book a day to reading one or two a week.
And it’s all because I’ve been writing. In March I self-published my first novella, Girl of My Dreams, actually it was more of a long short story at sixty-nine pages. Since that time I have put out one more novella, Fit for Love, and now three full novels. The third novel, Caramel Kisses, I published this week. It’s occurred to me that publishing five works in eight months is probably a lot, even if I’m not writing War and Peace. The second novella and two of the novels were conceived and completed during this period. The other novel was started a couple of years ago but sat gathering metaphorical dust most of that time. I just can’t seem to stop writing.
When I stop writing on a book and send it off into E-book Land, aka Amazon Kindle, I get this empty feeling, like publishing it has left a hole in my life. When I finished my second novel I couldn’t keep myself away from the keyboard, even though I had no idea what I was doing there. I started, and abandoned, four other projects. For the most part they were interesting opening chapters, but I had no idea what the actual stories were. One of them is longer than my first novella, and I still don’t know what the story is or will be. Or even if it should be.
And that’s where I am right now. I’ve finished Caramel Kisses. It’s published. I can’t edit or rewrite it any more. Now what do I do?
In the lingo of writers I’m what’s called a ‘pantser,’ as opposed to a ‘plotter.’ That means I write by the seat of my pants with no clear outline of where the work is going, or more importantly, how it’s going to get there. I usually have an idea of what the climax will be, but that often changes. It’s as if I create the characters, then type out the story as they tell it to me. In my novel Kitty-Kat I knew who the main characters were, how they thought, and some of the things they would do. Their back stories were a surprise to me. I knew Nan volunteered at a battered women’s shelter, but I hadn’t realized she was raised in a physically abusive home until I was well into the story – and that turned out to be one of the defining issues in the book. I knew Kat had an older sister, but didn’t know how pivotal she was to Kat’s development as a woman until the two of them started talking. And I wrote the Epilogue before I even knew how the story itself would play out. Yet despite my ignorance, it is arguably the best book I’ve written.
I read in other writers’ blogs, the plotters, how they carefully outline their books, defining each character’s part in the story and choreographing each plot element before they start writing. I tried that. It didn’t work for me. I got so involved in the outline I never wrote the story. Hell, I wasn’t even interested in the story after that.
So now I’m sitting here writing about writing – instead of actually writing. What I need is a couple of characters who can tell me their stories, or maybe a good Epilogue I can write a book to reach. Suggestions would be much appreciated.