Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Rediscovering Discovery

One difference, I think, between a professional writer and a hobbiest is that the professional writer writes whether she's "in the mood"or not. I try to keep this in mind when I have bad days or feel uninspired, like I felt last week.

It's been a tough week for me and my family. My husband didn't make the commander's list--he's in the Air Force, and after some discussion, we've decided the best thing for our family is to get back to Colorado Springs where he can finish his career doing what he loves in Space Command. That may mean a move in the middle of the school year; it might mean another summer move; it might not happen if they can't find a replacement for him here. (If they don't, we're staying three years so the older kids can finish high school then probably retiring.)

Getting a crown on my cracked tooth was not stopping the pain, so after two weeks on pain killers, I finally got a root canal. It went well, and as I write this (Friday the 10th), I'm a little achy but not so bad I need ibuprophin.

So, between that, the 3-day weekend (during which I was sick) and some discipline issues with my youngest, I've been pretty tapped emotionally and physically. Probably not the best time to try to rewrite a novel that's been evading me for three years.

Funny thing is, there never seems to be a good time for this novel. The more suspicious part of me wonders if someone has it in for this book. ("Could it be…Satan?")

The more logical part of me says, "Give me a break! This is not that important a book." However, it is important to my heart and stuck in my mind, and I swore to myself that this year, it gets done for better or for worse.

Plus, this is my job. Do carpenters take a week off working someone's house just because they're "not in the mood"?

So, even aching and distracted, I write.

I'm up to chapter six now. I've killed off some subplots because they weren't working and frankly, had nothing to do with the second half of the book which really works. I'm a little afraid of it turning back into "Love Boat in Space," but I'm going to trust my characters to be more diverse than that. Sister Ann is starting to show some spunk, and even better, I've found a lovely site that not only posts the daily Gospels, but also snippets from books and sermons by saints. I'm gathering materials for her encyclopedic mind. It also looks like some of Sister Thomas' past will show up, too, which I like because she was such a side character before.

I got only a few thousand words done, maybe an average of 500 a day, and I also hacked a lot of stuff that's no longer relevant. It's not my best work, quantity-wise, but reading it over again, I'm actually pretty satisfied with the prose.

An author I'd read (Dean Wesley Smith, perhaps) said you can't judge the quality of a book by the mood of the author when she was writing it. I think he's right.


I'm into Chapter Six. I had to rethink several threads in the book based on the new occupations of the characters. The videographer threw in a whole new wrinkle to a subplot, which helps me tie the two halves of the book together. Ann and Capt Addiman's relationship is going to be stronger, too, and I have an idea for a new wrinkle there, plus the chief engineer turned out the be the son of some friends from Tommie's past. So more interweaving of characters, which always strengthens a book. Here's a snippet from right after they have a service to bring the Host to the chapel in the Edwina Thomas:

"Doesn't Captain Addiman have the most beautiful chapel?" Ann exclaimed as people exited behind her.

The ship's captain stopped and laughed a deep, booming melody. "Not mine, dear sister."

"You're right. God's house is for everyone. Catholic, small c, from the Greek words kata and holos--according to the whole . Universal. Still, the Catholic--big C--chapel is so pretty!"

Addiman laughed again as he took her arm and led them out. "I thank you. This particular program was designed after the chapel set in Lola Quintain VI: Quest for the Papal Crown--"

He stopped mid-sentence and tapped at the communicator on his ear. "Addiman. Yes? I see. Yes, that is fine. We will be there shortly."

"Is it time to talk about the alien ship?" Ann asked eagerly.

Addiman smiled at her, bemused. With his height, he looked like a father beaming at a precocious child. "Past time, I think Dr. Thoren would say. They await us in the small auditorium."

"Then we should go!" She started down the hallway toward the auditorium as if she'd traipsed the halls hundreds of times already. The rest trailed behind, Tommie deliberately slow, with a hand on Andi to slow her as well. Rita stayed with them.

"The ship is of the universe," Ann pondered aloud to the captain. "But it's not of the whole, so it isn't really catholic."

"In either sense of the word," Addiman suggested. "I think Dr. Thoren will find that comforting."

"Caesar, too. Control is comforting. When we control, we find comfort; when God controls, grace…"**

Their voices became a murmur as the two rounded the corner.

**This is a quote from St. Gillian of L5, a saint in my universe. Ann often communicates in quotes.


Rosemary said...

I am trying to find the rituals and habits that will allow me to write every day. I feel that this is the main reason I came to grad school: as a commit to my writing, to being a writer.

As for feelings, today I feel stressed, because I have to have a story good enough to workshop by a week from Friday, and as of yet I don't even have a completed draft. Ergh. Stress is the worst emotion to write through, but deep breaths and candles .....

Walt said...

I know where of you speak. Trying to write while dodging all the goodies life throws at us in not unlike attempting to string beads while under artillery fire.

Laura said...

I needed this today. Heck, I need it every day. I'm too dominated by my feelings and moods - but if I'm a writer, I can only be satisfied if I'm a professional, not as a hobbyist - will keep cracking away at the inertia and fear...