Tuesday, December 7, 2010


...I love making up words. No, really. Hadn't you noticed? <g> But this is just a little entry I'm writing mostly because I'm procrastinating. I currently have The Neverboy half a chapter and one epilogue away from the so-called Shitty First Draft, and naturally that terrifies me. So naturally here I am, blogging instead of writing. And in that vein, I want to say something about tangents.

Why am I so afraid of finishing things? A large chunk of that fear is because throughout my adult life, I've never published a thing. I haven't tried very hard, admittedly, but I've entered several competitions and had zero back from it. I've submitted to a couple of anthologies, been politely but firmly turned down. I also belonged to New Zealand's romance writers collective for a year or so, and all the feedback I had back from them was basically negative. I coped with that by trying to take some of their advice while recognising I was there for all the wrong reasons (it's not my genre, I just thought it would be an easy way in to the published world; in hindsight, I wasn't giving them the credit they deserve). But yes, I am terrified of submitting something I actually care about to a publisher. Because what I have submitted in the past? Was written to formulas and requests and other ephemeral things I just didn't get. And maybe that's why they sucked. Because I didn't care about what I was writing.

But I do care about these stories, and that's why I am afraid.

So, there's that major fear. The other fears are just around the fact that I often get distracted when I am writing. As a reader -- or as a watcher of movies and television -- I am fairly well-known amongst my friends for looking right past the main characters and focusing upon the minor or supporting cast. I've always done it. Hell, at work today I baffled a colleague who recently started reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series; I told her fairly early on that my favourite character was one Lord John Grey, and I preferred him over the male protagonist, one Jamie Fraser. John Grey doesn't really turn up until the third book, and as she was out sick last week she managed to get from book two to book four, and she was saying to me today that she had met Lord John and couldn't understand why I was so utterly in love with him. You could repeat this scenario ad nauseum with every book, movie or television series I've loved. Side characters are my one true passion.

So, is it any surprise that when I write my own stories, the side characters mutate and embiggen themselves to the point where I can't even find the main story any longer?

This is one of my major problems with endings -- the main plotline has fragmented so much that I can't really bring it back together. Fortunately this is not the case with The Neverboy, as Kit has remained the firm protagonist the whole way through. Cal and Círa, his main companions, clearly have their own storylines and subplots, but they feed into Kit's and do not devour him alive (which, considering Kit's default reactive state, is rather fortunate; it's a slight miracle of literary alchemy that he hasn't been transmogrified by either, and in fact finally managed to transcend even himself). My problems with the ending of that novel are mostly to do with my crippling self-loathing and a fear of the wordcount. I'm verbose -- no, really; you can stop laughing, y'all sitting up there in the peanut gallery -- and although I don't seem to care much about that early on in proceedings, when I get to the end and have a hundred thousand words to a young adult manuscript, for some reason I decide to be frugal. At the worst possible time. This is how many a clunky deus ex machina ending evolves into a terribly deformed living being, people. But after almost a year apart from this WIP, I've got over that. Or maybe it's the lingering sorcery of NaNoWriMo, I don't know. But there it is.

So, tonight I will go plunge back into the muddy waters of the end of The Neverboy. I was daydreaming so much about it on the way home I parked my car in its old spot in the driveway instead of in the garage where it now fits. And I'm too distracted to actually go and put it away. The time for tangents is over. We're going for the apex of the triangle, the point of the story. It's come full circle. The chords are in tune. And my god, I can make more bad geometry puns than is really healthy for someone who should have had a degree in fine arts.

But as a closing remark, speaking of art -- the other day I realised for the first time (slow learner that I am) that I could have a couple of the commissions I've ordered in the past printed on nice glossy photo paper in poster form. I asked for Círa, Kit and Cal's drawing (the one on this blog), and then the infamous "facebook" shot of Eliot and Morgan (and Morgan's meat cleaver). They arrived today, along with a random beautiful photo I took in Palenque, and thus now...my three Neverboy children are staring at me from my wall, demanding that SFD. Now. So...no more tangents. To the point! It's just waiting to jab me in the back, I know, but...I have the feeling I'll enjoy it.

...yeah. I'm a masochist. But in a place like this, I'll tell you what...it sure helps. <3

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