Thursday, January 13, 2011

Writing about Writing

I did something fairly stupid last night, but a decision I’m glad I made. I turned down a massage client to go write. While I need the money desperately, I also need to give my writing the respect to pay attention to it on times when I’m not on break. If I want it to be a career, I need to treat it as such—sadly, I can’t do that as much as I want, but maybe someday I won’t have to do massage ever again!
I’m returning to the ghost story I began a year and a half ago, The Lodge. It will be a novella (much shorter than a novel, longer than a short story). I doubt I will be able to publish it, due to the length, unless other work I publish is received well. Either way, it’s okay. It’s a story that’s been playing around in my head for a long time, and any type of writing will only make me a better writer when I begin book two of the series.
The Dean Koontz book, What the Night Knows, is still sucking up my attention. I love it. I keep having to look over my shoulder in the car to make sure there’s no one, or no thing, back there. I’m pretty confident in my ability to write a dramatic scene, a tense scene, but I’m not really sure how to write a scary scene. It’s kinda strange since I read a lot of scary books. I’ve really tried to pay attention to when my heart rate increases and I have moments when I have to look behind me or turn on more lights or whatever due to fear as I read. What is the author doing that makes me feel that irrational fear of the book in my hands (or the sound in my car)? Honestly, the only thing I can figure out that they have in common is almost a lack of detail. Enough detail to paint very hazy lines, but a huge absence that allows your brain to take off on its own. The books that paint the scary scenes too clearly seem to make it more of a science fiction feel or fantasy, and loose part of the horror/fear aspect. For me, there isn’t a much harder task. I like to connect the dots, and it’s a daunting skill to know which details to give and to what level that will allow the readers’ brain to take off on a fear tangent.
I’ve read the first three pages of The Lodge several times over the past year or so. Simply because I really like what I written. The style is very different from my normal, and the characters aren’t ones I would normally choose. I don’t really even like my main character, he’s kind of a selfish, insecure asshole (that sadly has enough of me in him, that I can relate to his narcissistic apathy at times). I spent an hour or so simply reading the twelve pages I had written. Three-fourths of it, I don’t even remember writing. Even though I remember the outline I had crafted, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what happened on the next page (isn’t that strange? I wrote the damned thing.). To my pleasant surprise, I found myself getting scared, even glancing around once in the middle of the coffee shop… just to make sure. Or maybe I was just wishful thinking.
I spent the next hour and a half, painstakingly trying to craft half a page. Finally, I jotted down some notes on where I wanted to go next and put it away. If I’m pushing that hard and nothing is coming, chances are it’s going to be crap anyway.
Hopefully, I can make myself turn down both clients and friends one evening a week to spend writing, or contacting agents, etc.
This in one area of my life I have to start believing in myself enough to invest more time and take bigger risks.

1 comment:

rdjava said...

I can understand your drive to devote more time to your writing, but please don't cancel my appointment