Everything Slows Down

I’m so glad I have plot points, because somewhere in a novel I’m writing, I can’t remember what I’ve said and what I haven’t.  I lose my sense of direction, and ideas don’t bubble and flow like they did in the beginning.  I just reached 30,000 words of the 72,000 I’m hoping to write.  And the words are getting harder to find.  Everything’s slowing down.  Becoming work.  And I know some of you are rolling your eyes because you write volumes of words and then have to cut.  But not me.  I write lean and then have to go back to add descriptions and emotions.  All the extras.

The middle.  Ugh.  It’s a juggling act, keeping all of the story points in the air.  Even the best juggler, though, eventually times the balls wrong or gets tired, and the balls crash down.  That’s what the middle feels like to me.  So far, I’ve accomplished what I wanted to.

  1.  Jazzi’s sister, Olivia, finds the new girl she hired for her beauty shop dead in the chair that’s tipped back at the wash basin.
  2.  Jazzi’s ex-fiancée comes to her for advice, worried that his new wife is going to leave him.  And then she disappears.  And then the cops find her empty car near a field in the country with her purse on the front seat.  If she met someone to run away, why leave her purse?  Unless….
  3.  I’ve started introducing suspects, witnesses, and clues.  There are plenty to choose from for Misty.  Not many people liked her.  It’s slim pickings for Chad’s wife.  Everyone liked her.  And of course, he’s the main suspect.
  4.  At the same time Jazzi’s trying to piece together clues, she, Ansel, and Jerod are working on a Colonial house to flip.  Its rooms are huge, and they’ve decided to make this house a little more modern than what they usually do.
  5.  They’re trying to finish the flipper and help Ansel’s brother, Radley, and his fiancée Elspeth move into the house they bought on Wilt Street before Easter.  Easter’s a big event–a big family celebration.

I like the mix.  I just don’t like middles:)  But the only way out of them is to trudge forward.  So that’s what I’m doing.  Trudging, one word, one chapter at a time.  And I have a lot more to go.  And eventually, clues will add up, the pace will kick into gear again, and the words will flow faster.  Until then, no one said that writing was always fun.  Fulfilling, but that’s a different matter.  Sometimes it’s just a win when you get the words down.

Whatever you’re working on, good luck.  And Happy writing!

Writing & Detours

When I drove to my last Scribes meeting, I worried I’d be late.  The main road I always take was closed for repairs.  I turned on another road I use often, and it was closed farther down for road repairs, too.  I turned into a housing addition I know well to connect with a cut-through road, only to find a train had stopped and parked on the railroad tracks.  Workers were walking from car to car, checking connections.  It looked like the train wasn’t going to move any time soon.  I finally ended up taking another route.

I zigged and zagged my way to the library where we meet, five minutes ahead of time.  A miracle.  It made me think of my writing career. I’ve taken plenty of detours to get to where I am now.  I’ve belonged to Scribes for a long time, and I’ve met lots of other writers, and most of them have been forced to travel circuitous routes in their careers, too.

When I first started writing–way back in the cave drawing days–I firmly believed that good writing equalled a writing career.  I still firmly believe in good writing, but I’m not so naive any more.  Many wonderful writers can’t find a publisher.  They write for the wrong market, or the glutted market, or the highly competitive market.  Even if they self-publish, some focus on writing and neglect marketing and fizzle.  Not-so-wonderful writers have made a lot of money.  Why?  Because they deliver a story, an emotion, something new that readers want, and they make sure that their writing doesn’t get in the way–the difference between not-so-good and bad.  If a writer makes one grammar mistake after another, can’t spell, and can’t tell a clear story. . .well, he’s in trouble.  But there are writers who aren’t wordsmiths, but deliver a new product, something untapped, and they can become bestsellers.  Not the same as brilliant word choice, wonderful pacing, and an ingenious plot, but just as effective.  Heck, more effective, because what they do hasn’t been done.  Those books can hit the top ten even if critics pan them.

It’s not just publishing and marketing that make us detour, either.  We all tuck our writing between everything else that happens in our lives.  You just had a baby?  Good luck if you have time to read a book, let alone write one. Jobs, health, aging parents, kids…everything affects our writing.  When my girls were little, I worked hard to finish one book a year.  Now, I can finish a book in three or four months.  Still slow, compared to lots of writers.  But then, I’ve always been the tortoise, not the hare.  But right now, for this moment, I can focus on my writing.  Nothing’s tapping me on the shoulder, fighting for my time and attention.  Okay, nothing but my husband.  And bless him, he’s more than capable of entertaining himself.   Still, people have been coming and going in our house lately.  Lots of kids, friends, and family popping in and out.  Does it affect  my writing?  Sure, it does.  But in the long run, I know I’m going to write.  I’ll write around other peoples’ schedules, holidays, and necessities.  It’s what I do.

I’ve read tweets about NaNoWriMo, and I picture those people chained to their laptops, hammering out words.  Days like that are good.  But I can never promise myself they’ll happen.  What I can promise myself is that I’ll write around everything I possibly can.  And if I do that enough, I’ll end up with a book.  Hope you’re finding your writing rhythm, too.

P.S. I put Babet and Prosper’s chapter 7 up on my webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy/

on twitter: @judypost






Two of my friends are serious gardeners.   Each year, they kneel before their flower beds and impose their will on them.  They dig up clumps of daylilies and break them apart, so that they don’t overcrowd.  They weed and thin plants that have spread where they’re not supposed to.  And their flowerbeds look organized and thriving.  There are spaces between Japanese irises and bee balm, between columbine and hostas.  Everything is orderly.

I’m in short supply of this kind of discipline.  My flowerbed is a testimony to survival of the fittest.  Myrtle eats daisies.  Phlox reseed themselves at will.   If a plant lives and reaches for the sun, I’m happy with it, can’t bear to yank it up and tell it that it shouldn’t be there.

The same thing’s happened to my writing lately.  If an idea comes and clamors for attention, it gets it.  I tap my computer keys and bring it to life.  But I’m a fan of series.  If I fall in love with a character–like Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock, or Sharon Ashwood’s The Dark Forgotten–I buy every book until I run out.

When I first started writing paranormal, I had no idea what would work for me.  So I dabbled in a little bit of everything.  I combined mysteries with ghosts and serial killers with vampires.  But just like my flower bed, novels and novellas began jostling into one another, all stand alones with main characters struggling to poke their heads above the crowd to survive.  It’s time to bring more order, time to thin my ideas out, to start writing sequels and let my characters grow.  And hopefully, then, they’ve thrive.

(With a few novellas tossed in here and there.  A girl can’t be too structured.)