Living in Book World

For the last year, i’ve been editing two novels. These were the first two works of fiction i ever wrote. When i submitted them the first time, the publisher gave me great encouragement but said there were problems with the books i needed to fix. If i fixed them, they would look again. Now, that’s HUGE motivation. Trouble was, i didn’t have the novel writing skills to fully understand what changes they wanted. So i took myself back to school (online) and submerged myself in craft workshops. I’m a quick study, so it became clear pretty fast what i needed to change — and it was a lot! So i did. Deep point-of-view, improved conflict. On scene after scene i went back to the drawing (uh, writing) board and rethought, rewrote. That, plus a sidetrack for some serious health problems, took a year.

So when i started the NaNo challenge this past Monday, i was actually doing the first from-scratch, original writing i’d done in some time. Wow! I forgot. Writing new material is so different from editing, even when the editing is extensive. Editing is serious work while new writing has a definite element of play, and like all good games, it sucks you in. I am now living in book world, that seductive other planet where writers go when they’re creating stories. I took a walk this morning and i couldn’t even listen to my iPod because music has its own story and i wanted to stay in mine. Every word the characters say takes me somewhere. I had decided long ago that my heroine would be working as a midwife in Africa. That’s all i knew. But i’ve been to Africa, and all of a sudden my heroine is talking about the people and the culture. How tall the men are, how they cook.

I’ve written over 8,000 words as of this morning and i’m through the initial part of the book where i was pretty clear what would happen. I had to get my two heroes on stage and then my heroine. I knew how i wanted to do that so the scenes flew along. But now i’m approaching the creamy center, that part of a book where everything gets a little mushy. I know where the high points are — yes, they will have sex soon, but how do i want to get them there? Last night my heroine told me she wanted to go to the gay bar with the hero. Bingo! There’s a fun scene — straight girl who looks like a boy goes to gay bar with gay boy who is oddly attracted to this girl. That’s a fun way to get them to bed. But as i’m doing this, i’m walking around with my eyes glazed in book world. When people talk to me i have to pull myself out of a deep well in order to pay attention.

Book world is soooo fun. Who needs drugs when you’re a writer?