Thursday, June 30, 2011

novel not quite in progress

I'm sitting in the Garden Room at Aldermarsh on Whidbey Island north of Seattle. This is one of my favorite writing spots. A desk built in to the wall. Straight ahead is the lush green half-acre of garden, to my right the alder marsh and the hammock and more lilies than I can count.

I'm here for a luxurious 8 days of writing and this is Day 2. I like it best when I come up here with a project in full steam. Then my tasks are really clear. This time I am both between projects and sitting in indecision about whether to rework novel #2 from a whodunit into a piece of literary fiction or move on to novel #3. I also have poems I want to work with, my 100-prompt project to work on, books on writing to read, books of fiction to read, lots of choices. Probably too many.

So I made a list of possibilities, including some do-very-little items. And I decided to take on writing 3-4 chapters of a new book. It might not turn into anything, and it might. I might decide to stay with it all of the retreat or consider that enough for now.

I took a prompt that I wrote on May 6 (it's actually #1 of the 100 I'm currently writing) called "Road Trip," and I started writing. I like some of what's happening a lot. At the same time, I'm not so sure. So my indecision continues to be at play and I can sit with that.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Feedback from early readers and moving forward

I've had three early readers for my mystery novel. My two friends loved it and had only minor comments. My sister, on the other hand, really liked it but she had some things to say that I've been pondering today. For a whodunit, she said, it's great. "In fact, I'd skip some of the characterization for a whodunit. But, it has the potential for a great piece of literary fiction. Can you take it deeper? Can you develop your own literary voice here?"

Her words have many implications for me. Is it too good for a whodunit and not good enough yet for literary fiction? Do I shop it now and if it doesn't sell, do I rewrite it? But it's a great story and it could be something more. Do I have the writing chops yet to make it more or am I still learning? Do I need more practice novels as I develop my own voice? I think I have a good style but maybe I don't have a solid voice yet.

I'd geared myself up to let go of Ellie and Al and Hansen and move on to the next novel. I've been writing some great story starts from prompts and some intriguing characters and situations have shown up. But maybe Ellie and Al and Hansen aren't done with me yet.

I'm not discouraged by her comments. I find them very intriguing and a good challenge. I want to be a great writer and I want to write literary fiction. Is it time now to step into that?