Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Beast

I have been cranky lately. No, I’ve been more than cranky. I’ve been a vengeful, crank-tastic, snippy, one-pushed-button-away-from-nuclear bitch. There are a couple of reasons for it (PMS, anyone?), but the main one is that I’ve been having trouble with my writing.

In late December, I sent off the first draft of my second novel (keeping up?) to my agent. I feel pretty good about that MS. It’s got good characters, good plot, good set-up for future installments. But once I finished that one and sent it off, I had to figure out what to write next? The sequel to Novel 2? The paranormal-ish scenario I’ve had knocking around in my head for ages? Something contemporary, set in Petersburg—the city I’ve been dying to write about for years? I finally settled on the last—a women’s fiction piece set in Petersburg—and wrote about twenty pages on that, only to find it wasn’t working. Undaunted, I rewrote those twenty pages. Still didn’t work. I then edited the rewrite, went back to the first draft and considered pulling it off the bench. A week later, I switched heroines. Nope, still nothing. At that point, I ate an entire Entenmanns’s devil’s food cake with marshmallow icing and a plate of chipotle ranch fries before indulging in a frenzy of reading other people’s books while feeling vaguely sorry for myself. Two weeks later, I’m still doing extra laps at the gym to get rid of that cake and I haven’t written a word.

Productive, no? And the thing is, I’m not happy unless I’m being productive. I hate feeling stuck, I hate to be without a project—something I can chip away at little by little and see my progress measured in word counts and filled pages. Basically, this time between projects sucks.

Fortunately, I’ve got an incentive to get off my ass. This weekend, Romance Divas is having a High Noon Challenge stretching from 6pm on Friday evening until noon on Sunday. The goal is simple word count—just sit down and write straight through without editing and agonizing over each paragraph. That’s actually not a bad way to write if you’re trying to break through writer’s block. I’ve found that what hinders me the most is not lack of plot, but lack of voice. I generally start a project with a pretty good idea of the plot. Voice is harder to come by.

This weekend I’m going to start an entirely new project—I’m consciously choosing one that I haven’t tried to work on in the last two months only to get bogged down. The goal here is a new start, not continued frustration, right? This project is a Young Adult paranormal, something I haven’t attempted before. I’ve gotten some excellent suggestion as to YA titles to peruse in order to get familiar with the market, and I quite enjoyed the two hours I spent last night at Barnes & Noble reading Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty. I plan to go back tonight and flip through some others, and then on Friday. . .things get serious.

Hopefully, this time next week will find me back in the writing saddle and not quite so bitchy. Fingers crossed, people!


Anonymous Anne said...

Mel - I'd love to take a look at that YA Paranormal reading list too, if you're willing to share. My original fiction that I'm "working" on (meaning not working around, just stewing over) is YA Paranormal (fantasy? I guess?) and I've been thinking I need to go read some to get a better feel for the genre before I write much more.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Jana J. Hanson said...

Share, share!!

And I love Libba Bray!! I cannot thank Nephele enough for recommending her! Holly Black is another I get excited to read. I'm trying not to sulk until my library buys up Valiant.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Loribelle Hunt said...

That sounds like an excellent plan, Melanie. I haven't decided what to concentrate on yet for the HNC. Shorts for EC maybe. Good luck! ;)

11:34 PM  
Blogger Melanie Hayden said...

Anne--I'll send you my list this weekend, and I can't wait to talk to you about your project!

Jana--I finished AGATB this morning between the gym and work and I LOVED it. I can't wait to read Rebel Angels. But not this weekend! This weekend, I write.

Loribelle--Good luck with the challenge! Shorts sounds like a good way to go for this type of thing. Have you written them for EC before?

6:02 PM  

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