distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Books in Boxes

New novel update:

I would not say things are going “well,” but I haven’t given up yet. The way in is sometimes slow, one toe wet for a week and still reluctant to dunk my head in. This amorphous new novel wants to be written, it’s just not giving me a good hint at how it wants to be approached.

Before I did the revision of DANI I had a small break and at that point I did write pages for what may or may not be the first chapter of the new novel. Then I had to put those pages aside, of course, because revising DANI took precedence, and now that I’ve returned to the new novel I can’t just throw myself back at the pages. I want to get the “big picture” down, I keep telling myself. So I’ve been writing a plot summary. A pitch, like I told myself I would. And I think the problem isn’t so much that I’m having trouble with the “picture,” it’s doubting the picture. It’s thinking, Should I be making this other picture instead? Should I redo my picture to be like these other pictures I saw announced on Publishers Marketplace? What picture will get me an agent, a book deal, a real career? And we all know the dangers of writing something we think—we hope—we assume—will be marketable. Because you cannot predict the market. If there was a way to remove all thoughts of the outside world from my head so I could write this book I’ve been wanting to write for years, I would.

I’ve been wanting to write this book for years—can’t forget that. That’s why I’m writing it!

Sometimes I think, for me, that it’s better to start off with the lowest of low expectations. Like, say I do write this book I’ve been wanting to write for years. I finally get it down on paper. It takes time. And yet I feel good. But then this happens: Other people read it, and they’re not too hopped up about it, and I don’t get an agent and I don’t get it published and I end up with a book in a box and nothing more. The question is, Can I live with writing this novel only to have it end up as another book in a box taking up space in my apartment?

I’m going to say yes. I can live with that.

I hope admitting that to myself helps me write it. No pressure or anything, but I was wanting a full first draft by June 1.

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7 responses to “Books in Boxes”

  1. I don’t think this one will end up in a box. I have A Feeling. But if you wind up putting it away (temporarily, I’m certain it would be temporary) maybe instead of a box in the closet or under the couch you should put it out in the world. Send it to Yojo maybe. Or send copies out to the four corners of the world (which are obviously LA, Chicago, Scotland, and some other corner of your choosing – possibly in Asia or Australia).

  2. Your determination is astounding. Already on your next novel! My writing mojo needs to visit yours and take a wake-up call. Personally, I can’t wait for Dani Noir …

  3. In my opinion, getting started is always the hardest part of writing. Like you, I tend to dunk a toe, trail a finger, walk around the pool eyeing the water to evaluate the best possible place to probably jump in…soon…when I have a better idea of entirety of things. The problem is you discover the best part of the story under the water, after your immersed. I don’t know if it gets easier with the 12th book (I’ll ask Robin McKinley next time I see her : ) ) But I’m on my fourth full manuscript (granted the first three were in the same world, with the same characters and are now like friends) and it wasn’t easy.

    For me, ultimately, I write the story because it wants to be written and I need to write it and in doing so, I discover more about the characters, plot, motivations, etc then I knew going in.

    A manuscript in a box, feels, to me, like an abandoned child, but that doesn’t diminish the effect the process of putting that manuscript together has on the writer. I’m convinced every time you practice the art of writing, you expand your talent.

    Sometimes it’s good to put a manuscript down for awhile so you can pick it up later and read it with fresh eyes but that’s something different.

    That said, here’s to no boxes for either of us this year!

  4. Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.

  5. Even if after all that, all the planning,
    the writing, and then finally the
    completion. Even if after all that
    it does end up in a box, at least
    you would have completed it.

    What I wouldn’t give to finish
    any of the books that I have set
    out to write in the past.

    Alot of people would give alot to
    have a completed novel in a box.
    Even if no-one ever read it.

  6. Yay! Found you again. Switched to a new laptop at Xmas (thank you, Santa) and somehow messed up my blog links. Back on track and catching up with you … Happy New Year!

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