Wednesday, May 31, 2006

When To Start Again?

This novel that I call LOVING THE LAW (or HAWAII IN BLOOM, or SOMETHING CHEAP), has been following me around for the last year and a half.

It's gone through a number of changes, most of which have been the removal of several organs and limbs, followed by an appropriate redecoration of body parts to suit. Right now I'm struggling with the question of when to throw away the whole damn thing and start again with a nice fresh corpse.

The train track of thought that tells me to keep going is powered by one theory: I'm probably just getting bored.

Watching a movie takes a couple of hours unless you have the extended edition DVD. Reading a book can take a few weeks or a couple of days if you have more time.

Writing a book takes years. Or months if you have nimble fingers.

And all that time is spent hanging out with the same people. People with silly names like Danny Hawaii, Frank Wilder, and Roger Thornberg. On top of that, I'm planning on this being a series. I may have to spend the rest of my life with these fools.

The Debut Daggers helped spur me on to come up with a better beginning and a more coherent plotline, and the last month has seen me attempting to put my new plans into motion. But I keep having days where I stare at the same sentences and think, "BORING."

I'm going to give myself a few days to come up with some notes that make me love my characters again. Then I'm going to spend a few solid weeks rewriting scenes with this more evolved knowledge.

And then, I dunno. I have a few ideas floating around for other novels, one of which has been occupying the anals (a little different to annals) of my mind for the past few days, threatening to take over.

But I'm going to see if I can fight the bastard off. If it's strong enough to defeat me, then I will bow to its will and let it take me where it must.

Or I'll just finish this damn fucking novel.

Don't I sound mean when I swear?


Stuart MacBride said...

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is say, "Fuck this," and start something new.

But I've also met people who've spent SEVEN YEARS reworking the same bloody book, instead of treating it as a learning experience and moving on.

Neither are nice, but the latter gets you avoided at conventions, especially in the bar.

Stephen D. Rogers said...


How do you hope to fall in love with your characters again?

Asking from the last 10% of my book,

Daniel Hatadi said...

Stuart: rest assured that if I can't get this novel working, I WILL let it go.

But if I don't, I'll just avoid conventions. They're too expensive for me anyway.

Stephen: It's possibly a little clinical, but I'm going through the character notes and trimming them down to the essence, making sure to list things like the character's inner and outer goals, and the price of success or failure with those goals.

It got me loving my MC again, so hopefully it'll work on the others.

The other technique I'm using is to watch Jimi Hendrix at the Isle Of Wight. Seems to be giving me some perspective. And the DVD looks so much better than my old VHS!

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Tough decision. I had a novel bouncing through my head for years and thought I had finally given it up after rewriting it as a short story. That's when I figured out that it was the voice and the style that I wanted to do it in and the little fucker's back.

Maybe it's time to put it aside, as opposed to into the waste can, and let it percolate a little more. You've got a good idea and a fun character. Be a shame to see him die forever.

Whatever you do, I'm sure it'll work out eventually. And I'm sure you've got more than one book in you.

Mary said...

I think you've been given some great advice there and I totally agree with Stephen.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Thanks, Stephen B. I'm taking it all on board.

And Mary, you ALWAYS agree with him. Even when he said you were with me because of the threats I'd put on your family.

You know what will happen now, don't you?

Stephen Blackmoore said...

That's because she knows I'm right. A wise and wonderful woman, Mary. With keen insights. You should listen to her. ;-)

Sandra Ruttan said...

I come at this from the other side, as someone who did put book one aside (after it was fully written) and moved on. And then I re-wrote it, and still moved one. I couldn't write a damn query letter for that novel to save my life and I didn't think it would ever be published.

So, I entered it in a couple contests, it longlisted and then it won. Now it's getting published.

All I can say is, when I wrote it, the goal was just to get it done. Not worry if it was good or bad, obsess over every word and scene. Just get it done. Then I felt this sense of accomplishment - I could write a book. The new goal was to write a better book. Then a good book. A year later, three manuscripts done, I went back and re-wrote #1. I could see layers in it I never saw first time around. Part of the learning, I guess.

And there's still room for improvement. Just know yourself - is putting it aside giving up and avoiding an important part of your journey (completion) or is it the right thing to do?

Only you can know, but there is no one right answer.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Bodies float to the surface when the laws of physics demand it. Figure the same with your writing. Anything that's causing you too much angst can be pulled out again in a year, or maybe five years and reconsidered. Writing improves, one hopes, ideas and plotlines remain.

This isn't much help is it?

Daniel Hatadi said...

That does help. I like the idea of the body floating to the surface metaphor. It allows me to dive down right now and pull it to the surface. Or not.

Steven said...

Coming to this a month late, I'd lean toward finishing even if only as a learning experience. Book two might be better for have gone through that motion.

Of course, if the process is stunting your growth as a writer- if you feel like you're not actually getting anything back from the exercise - then cut and run.

The one thing that is certain is that you should not get in your own way... I've know plenty of writers who put all their energy and effort into one project and they tie up their identity as writers in that one book as though there won't be another.... I tell these people to look at writing as a CAREER. At the end of your days are you planning to look back on one masterwork or a body of quality stuff? I'd rather be Ed McBain than Harper Lee. (not that I've actually read To Kill a Mockingbird, but come 'on. One book?)