Sunday, April 2, 2017

Seems like…

just about the only time I write blogs anymore is when I’m up at the cabin.

Except for when I’m committing acts of shameless self-promotion, of course.

This morning is no exception. I woke to a sunrise with a forest fire palate of color, red and orange flame shot through with smoky gray –
yeah, I know. Morning here brings out the maudlin poet in me.   

I’ve come up here with the supposed intention of working on my new book. I wrote novel first, but then erased it. Somehow calling something I’m writing a novel feels pretentious. I say supposed intention because I’ve brought the manuscript up here the last three times I’ve visited and have yet to work on it.

I’m only fooling myself. 

There’s no one else to fool, and even I don’t really believe myself anymore. 

Which is kind of sad, if you think about it. Or possibly it’s just realistic. In any case, the weather has been unusually warm and the sun is out, as it has been for the last couple of my visits. I can’t possibly be expected to work under these conditions.

Absolutely honest truth?  I’m stuck. This book is so tantalizingly close to completion. Most of the corrections at this point are minor ones, places where there are a few to many words, or not quite enough. Mostly places that need expounding upon. I’m a bit of a poet when I write fiction. I tend to use as few words as possible, so that my first drafts often resemble other people’s outlines. Then I have to go back and flesh out the bones. That’s writer talk. It sounds much classier than having to say now I have to go back and describe Sally’s dress. (Or for those of you who have heard me expound upon Lynn Emanuel’s essay, I have to get Raul to the elevator.)

Finished doesn’t mean ready for the printer, of course. In this case it means ready enough to try and find an agent with it. I’ve been lucky up until this point and haven’t really needed to find an agent. Although in at least one case I probably would’ve been better off with an agent then with a publisher who took my book. Sour grapes.

The woods here are full of wild grapes. Some of the older vines are literally as thick around as my wrist. Sometimes you’ll find a tree with a vine has grown into the trunk, winding its way up from the forest floor into the branches –

But I digress.

I’m stuck because I can’t find the right voice for one of my characters. I think I know what she feels and how she acts and why she does the things she does but I can’t get the words right. There’s a couple of factors in the book that make this more difficult. This character’s not in any dialogue, which is where you can use abbreviations and spellings and made-up words that just don’t make a lot of sense on the page otherwise.

She’s not the main character, but she’s vital to the book. So I’ve got to get this right. It’s important enough that when I try to start in on it now, several months after I sent the book to my first readers, and got the same comments about her voice from all of them, I choke. I read tons of books and listen to tons of people and I think I’ve got it, but each time I try it just isn’t right yet.

I not only have to get Raul to the elevator, I have to give him a voice. Preferably one that will make you want to get on the elevator with him, and ride the whole way up. Or down.

I took a break to wander around the internet. I belong to a great page on Facebook where you can buy and sell anything in the county, from baby clothes to a `92 Mazda.

I wonder if I could buy a teenage girl’s voice there?

I bet I could. And it would be authentic as hell.