Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday's Novel Writing Tip: Tell Someone Your Writing a Novel

Just last week, a co-worker of mine asked me about my progress with my writing career...and he didn't mean my technical writing career. Back when I was writing my first novel, Treason at Hanford, I told him (and everyone else) that I was writing a novel. The cool thing was that most of those people asked about my progress. And I let them know what chapter I was on, when I expected to finish it, and so on. It was a fantastic rush. Most people were in awe that I was writing a novel and marveled at my accomplishments. Another spur was my finite deadline: I was going to pitch the book to an agent in a June conference. I was told to have the manuscript complete so I had better had that manuscript complete. And I did, partly as a result of all the enquiring minds.

Cut to last week when my co-worker asked me about the progress of both podcasting Treason at Hanford and the progress of my second novel. The podcasting will come later this year. But the embarrassing part was having to tell him that...Justice in H-Town, my second novel, is still unfinished. Frankly, it was embarrassing...and I only have myself to blame. I tried to couch the reason for my unwritten second novel in structural issues ("I was writing the book this way but then I realized that it needed to be this other way.") and they are valid issues. The structure and tone of a book has got to be right, especially for its first reader: the writer. If a book sounds false to the writer, everyone else will pick up on it and stop reading.

So, I was telling my co-worker these things, true though they were, and it sounded hollow in my mouth and my ears. Embarrassing. And I hated myself for not having a better answer. Or for allowing this second novel to languish for so long. I decided to do something about it.

That was Friday. Saturday I met Duane Swierczynski and that was an inspiration. Now, I'm on the path to completion. Now, I'm back on the horse and will complete Justice in H-Town by Christmas. There, I'm telling everyone out there so y'all can ask about it.

Summary: By letting other people know you are writing a novel/short story/whatever, you give yourself some accountability. When you are on track with your book, telling people who ask is thrilling. It gets you excited and back in front of your keyboard that much faster. Heck, it'll make you want to write even more so than normal. When you are off track, however, it's embarrassing to tell people of your lack of progress. Both feelings can spurn you on. I just prefer the former over the latter.

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