Poetry Saturday

On writing

I'm slowing down on my novel. It's okay because I'm way (WAY) ahead for word count and I know I still have some things to say. This afternoon I couldn't focus on what came next, so I tore some Post Its in half and timelined my story, the Post It notes rising and falling with what's going on emotionally with my character. I came up with one or two more ideas, so that's good. I'm definitely slowing down, though. The middle is hard. Conveniently (and on purpose, I'm sure) the pep talk (the powers that be at NaNoWriMo send one out to everyone registered) this week was about The Middle. It was written by Maureen Johnson, whose thoughts on writing, I've noted before on this website, really inspire me. Anyway, it was all about how the middle is the long hard part, the slog, the section where you spend the most time staring out the window behind your computer. (If you're at all interested in reading it and aren't on the NaNoWriMo list, let me know and I'll forward it to you.) 

It makes me think of a really amazing book - The Corner Of The Universe, by Ann M. Martin (yes, the Babysitter's Club author!). The beginning of that book is awesome. And then I spent a few hours wondering why my dad (my dad is pretty much the only other person I know who reads children's literature) had been hounding me to read it (you can just guess the look on his face when I told him it was written by THE BABYSITTER'S CLUB LADY). And then I get to the end and holy wow is the end of that book powerful. I just reread it a few weeks ago in preparation for NaNoWriMo and it struck me again - the beginning and ending are gripping, but the middle is... a lot of impatient wanting to know how this possibly going to pan out. I skipped a lot, I'm ashamed to say. And yet, I love that book. 

I don't know why I told you all that. Ummm... it gives me hope? I think? Because my middle is QUITE the slog. I'm not ENTIRELY sure what happens at the end, but I have a good idea. I know a couple of specific scenes that need to happen in the middle and I generally know what my characters should be learning/thinking/feeling in the middle, but dude. Figuring out how to SHOW that instead of TELL it? Hard. And sort of neurotic-making. I am so thankful I read Bird By Bird a while back because the neuroses I've developed in the last two weeks are sort of... well, intense even for me. I chuckled through Bird By Bird. "Oh Anne," I said to myself, "you are so SILLY." And now I'm all, that's not silly, that's ME.

And then there are books like... well, I just left a comment on Lindsay's blog the other day saying this is the one book I can read over and over and over and over and over: The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin. That book is thin and so tightly plotted I can't figure out how she thought it up. There are no extraneous words in that book. The kind of book that makes you despair of ever coming close to writing something someone else might actually want to read. 

I've also started reading a couple Donna Leon mysteries (set in Venice, sob) (no YA or children's lit during NaNo! I'm ALREADY a mess, thank you!) and she packs all this... PHILOSOPHY into her murder mysteries. Which is intimidating, you know? I am writing Teen Girl Fiction, but I don't want it to just be about The Boy Who Doesn't Know I Exist and Who Will Eat Lunch With Me? and Woe, No One Is Going To Ask Me To The Dance. Sometimes I think I'm just writing a romance for 15-year-olds and I think OH GOD MY DAD WILL DIE OF SHAME.

On the other hand, I have never written so much. Well, not so much for ONE project. That I am, as of yet, not bored with, not wanting to chuck out the window (not all the time), not thinking I should delete every word because they are THAT BAD. I mean, it might be that bad, but I'm not there yet. You know? I still want to see where it goes. 

And I've written something every day, even the last few days I've managed to cough up a few hundred words. Making time to write was easier than I thought - Phillip does schoolwork instead of watching TV with me in the evenings (WE ARE SO EXCITING), so I sit at my computer too. My TV commitments have really suffered as a result, but I'm not as miserable about that as I thought I'd be. Besides, Phillip and I have big TV watching plans for Thanksgiving (he has a WEEK OFF, THANK YOU GOD.) I STILL haven't seen The Office wedding episode!

I had a pretty rotten week, one of those weeks where absolutely everything is making you angry but you're not sure why. And then you think you're over it, because it was just a stupid little thing, but then ANOTHER thing happens and it's just compounded by the PREVIOUS thing and BAH. Not good. I feel, in a lot of ways, that I'm back at that point when Jack was four or five months old and I felt powerless, pointless, out of control. So much is happening in our lives, but Phillip is the one providing the forward motion. I'm just there to manage the details, you know? It's how we deal with finances down to Phillip needing the car next week. I want to be making big decisions, I want to be the one who has something really important to do that everyone else has to plan around. And I feel really shameful for even thinking those things because HELLO I am my husband's biggest fan, I WANT THIS FOR HIM. I'm being selfish and immature and silly. Get over yourself, Self! So I'm working on it. I am. And in the meantime I have this semi-ridiculous teen girl fiction thing I'm working on and it makes me feel like I am doing something important too, even if no one else knows it. 



I bet your novel is awesome. In that laugh out loud, cry in the middle of the dentists office, nod my head in agreement kind of way. I mean why not, your blog posts certainly are!

And I totally know what you are saying, about wanting to be the one stuff gets scheduled around... or at least feeling like there is SOMETHING IMPORTANT going on in your head, in your life. I'm still trying to get there...


When your book is published and you become famous, will you autograph my copy?

I've had weeks like those. In fact, I think I might have one of those coming up...


You know you are totally right, the middles of books are the hardest part to read though I never realized it til now, so it follows that they would also be the hardest part to write.

I hope this week is better for you.

Anne P.

Good gracious from hood space!


So happy to hear about your nanowrimo success this far. Keep enjoying it. I like the middles I think. I get sad when everything is being resolved at the end if it's a book I like because it means it's almost over. It applies to tv too. When Ross and Rachel got together at the end of Friends, I was all, IT's REALLY OVER NOW. WAHHH.

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