Wednesday, December 13, 2006

He's baaaaack...

It's been way too long! Did I actually last write an entry in October??

I'm finally off the road and it feels good. I'm pretty exhausted, but it's a good exhaustion. Now I'm hot into the next novel.

This one has a tight timeline. No, make that a ridiculously tight timeline: the end of February. That gives me roughly 11 weeks to finish a novel that I'm less than a quarter of the way into.

With that deadline firmly in my sights, I've had to adopt a different way of working than the one I usually employ. Generally, I just let plots develop as I go along. When I begin a novel I know the start, middle and ending (although that's usually the sketchiest part of the equation) and just feel my way through. This allows interesting things to happen: characters walk into the book that I didn't expect, locations change and characters turn out not to be who I thought they were.

It's a very cool way of working, but it can lead to dead ends in the story or subplots that don't make the grade. This time out, I can't afford to take those kinds of chances. If I go out on a limb and then saw it off behind me, it could take days, if not weeks, to get back on track. It's happened to me more than once on past novels.

So now I'm spending a lot of time just thinking about the plot before I go near the computer or pull out my journal. It's a much more controlled way of working, actually blocking out several chapters at a time. I'm even making notes -- something I NEVER do. Thus far, it seems to be working. The book is humming along, although, since I also have a day gig, there's too much starting and stopping for me to be able to get the creative juices really flowing. That's hopefully going to come during the holidays, since I'm planning on locking myself in a dark room (no Internet!) and force myself to GET IT DONE!

Is this the best way to write a novel? I don't really think so. (Simenon, it's said, could write an entire Maigret novel in one weekend, working round the clock. They aren't terribly long books, but they are well written, so that's a damned impressive thing as far a I'm concerned.) But sometimes things like this happens and if you're going to consider yourself a professional, you just make that deadline.

I do work well under pressure and I think I can come up with something I can be proud of in the time given, but it's going to be a close thing.

With that in mind, what the heck am I doing writing a blog entry?

To all of you and yours, the very best of the holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year!

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