Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A potpourri of thoughts

by Rick Blechta

As usual, this week again finds my thoughts scattered and with zero focus. I’ve taken to calling it “Covid brain”, and in speaking to friends, I’ve found a lot of us our suffering from this. After reading Tom’s post from yesterday, he’s got it too. 

So I’m going to make lemonade out of the handful of lemons I’ve got, hence the title of my post.

My WIP (when will it be finished and not in progress?) has hit a huge snag. A good part of the storyline was set to take place in Washington, DC, and because of the border closure between Canada and the US, that obviously ain’t going to happen. Yes, I understand I might be able to fly across the border if I had to — but I don’t. 

What to do? Move the setting someplace else? 

I come from New York so I know it well, but to be honest, I don’t think that would cut it. The book is totally about the US which means I’ve got to come up with some workable solution. I can't switch it to Canada, where I can travel anywhere I need to.

At this point I’m leaning in the direction of consulting Dr. Google, write what I need to using that limited information, then finding someone who lives in DC or knows it very well to read the “offending” portions of the book in order to tell me what’s wrong. And there will be a lot wrong.

Which brings me to setting. I’ve given that a lot of thought lately.

I tend to look askance at authors who set their novels in places they’ve never been or have only visited briefly and have the character telling the story who is a native. My feeling is you need to live someplace to really understand it enough to write about it. That’s why when I have to set something in, say, Paris (The Fallen One), I always make my “narrating character” an outsider, someone visiting or working there briefly. Then if I make an egregious error on something, I can be more easily forgiven by a reader who spots it. And I visit the place myself to gain the same knowledge my character would have.

Now I’m faced with a similar situation in my WIP, and as much as I want to, I can’t visit the place I’m writing about. I’ve flown over the US capitol a few times and driven by it as well, but I’ve never set foot in the place. To me, that’s a huge deficit to overcome.

The one hope is that maybe things will get better by the time I’ve completed my first draft (if only!) and I get to visit before I have to submit my novel to a publisher. It may be a vain hope, but what else do I have?

The last “thought” for this week is why does adversity seem so much harder to overcome than it usually does? Perhaps Barbara, being a psychologist could explain it, but I can be brought to a halt, lose heart at the most trivial of things. My “Washington” problem is a good example. I feel as if I’m staring at a blank wall without an ounce of resolve to deal with the issue.

Paging Dr. Fradkin!

No comments: