Opening the stranger door
So, while I’m waiting for the publication of my new book, I’m turning back to the work-in-progress, which has me in something of a twist.
It’s been a relief, frankly, to put it aside for a couple of months while I concentrate on the ‘bidness’ of publishing. However, The Big Dog now wants to be walked, and in lieu of having it pee on the carpet and eat my furniture, I am paying it all the attention I can.
I’ve started this new book a number of times. This happens with all my books, incidentally, so I’m not panicking over that. With every book I’ve written, I’ve struggled, sometimes for years, with the proper voice, the appropriate psychic distance, which POV to use, etc. I started THE RADIANT CITY twelve times before I found the right tone.
And I’ve really been wanting to write this new book, which started out as an exploration of the death-by-suicide of my brothers (yes, plural) based in myth and folktale, and which I envisioned as full of fantastic creatures and a journey to the underworld, perhaps to my own subconscious. But I’ve never written anything like that before, and after about a hundred pages, I got cold feet. Maybe it was too ambitious; maybe I should write a memoir (NOT!); maybe I should write the sort of thing I’ve written before — grounded in reality, a psychological drama. So I tried that. Wrote maybe sixty pages in the third person. Got bored. Went back and wrote another sixty or seventy pages, in the first person. Better, but still flat.
Then I picked up that original manuscript again, full of strange creatures and an odd bookstore no one ever visits and a journey through a city of hidden labyrinths and a lost son.
It had been many months since I read that piece, and I found myself intrigued, reading on, wanting to know what happens next. Of course, I have no idea what WILL happen next, but one thing’s clear: this odd, kind-of-unlike-me story, the ambitions of which scare me more than a little, is the one in which the power lies.
So, I give in. This is the book I’ll write. This is the door I’ll open.
After all, if I’m going to spend the next four or five years of my life dedicated to a story, it had been be one that holds my interest, excites me, challenges me, teaches me something I didn’t know before. What’s going to happen in this odd story? No idea, but in writing, like in most things, the journey’s the thing. I’ll keep you posted as I wander through the odd alleyways . . . (in fact, I may send up a flare!).
Lauren, it sounds like you’re at the start of another exciting journey. It’s so interesting to hear about the writing process. Many thanks!
PS: I’m a fan and will be ordering your new novel.
Looking forward to reading the new novel, Lauren, congratulations. And I like the sound of the one in progress! All the best.
Thanks so much, John. I appreciate the support. What are you working on these days?
Do you remember me from Humber? You weren’t my mentor but did me more good than anyone else there.
Just wanted to let you know that I’m excited about reading your new book. I’ll buy a copy as soon as I can.
All the best,
Hi Ann — yes of course I remember you! How lovely of you to drop me a note. I do hope you like OUR DAILY BREAD, and that you’ll let me know! Thanks again! Lauren
Hi Lauren. It’s always nice to know that those struggles can eventually lead to a real book. My current WIP has been started and restarted in so many different ways it makes me want to scream, and I still am not sure where it’s going or how to get there. But I still feel like there’s “something” there if I could just find the right way to come at it.
Anyway, I think Our Daily Bread sounds fascinating and I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading it. And I think this new project sounds very intriguing as well. I hope it ends up being an enriching journey for you!
Leslie — I know the feeling of wanting to scream when you’re in that start/stop place. Sometimes you just have to push through to the end of a draft — don’t get caught in Rewrite Land, you know?
And who wants to know where a book will lead you — the journey’s so fantastic, why spoil it by knowing the ending in advance? One word in front of the other . . .
I hope you do enjoy OUR DAILY BREAD, and that you’ll let me know.