Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Coming to a VERY painful conclusion

by Rick Blechta

Two nights ago I woke up at 3:00 a.m. because I smelled a skunk, but that’s another story…

As I tossed and turned trying to clear my mind and get back to dreamland, something flitted through my consciousness that was exceptionally disturbing: my WIP is telling the wrong story. That certainly woke me up completely! Allow me to explain.

The basis of my plot is about skullduggery within high the US government and my protagonists are trying to discover exactly what’s going on and then how to make it public — without getting themselves murdered. And that turns out to be a very difficult thing to accomplish.

All perfectly normal stuff for a thriller, right?

I believe it was Barbara who first brought up on Type M the problems the pandemic is causing writers who are trying to write novels that are relevant. Do we acknowledge how societies’ are coping with the new reality of our lives or do we carry on as if nothing has changed? To my mind, that won’t work unless we set our plots in 2019 or before.

And that’s my problem. I was trying to tell my story ignoring the pandemic, and two nights ago it suddenly became apparent that this would flat out, not work.

I didn’t sleep the rest of the night as I wrestled with what I could do. First off, would anybody right now — and in the foreseeable future — actually care about an illegal operation within the US government to make off with huge amounts of cash? Should I scrap the entire novel and come up with something else? Could I adapt the plot somehow and move it in another direction?

Now I usually don’t dish out much information about things I’m writing, but in this case I feel it’s necessary to make my conundrum clear.

As I puzzled through the issue over the course of several hours I began to see a possible way through the mess, to possibly improve my story by working in the pandemic.

I’ve gotten to a place where I believe much of what I’ve written can be saved, but there’s a lot that will need to be cast aside. Also disheartening is that a fair bit of research is heading right down the drain. 

Sad as the whole thing is, this is what writing is all about. It could have just as easily happen when the novel got to a publisher or editor, “We really like the story you’re telling but could you change it to…?

So it’s once again Back To The Drawing Board for moi. Sigh…

But perhaps in the long run, I’ll be saving myself even more work.

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