Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beginning Anew

I've begun serious work on a second novel, now. Technically, I started another novel at the end of 2006, but I realized that I wasn't quite ready to write that one just yet, so I put it back on the shelf for the time being. At present, there are no fewer than four distinct ideas for novels in my head, and I wasn't quite sure which one I'd end up writing first; it came as something of a surprise, actually, when I decided to work on the one that I'm now writing.

I find it interesting how so much of what I'm doing feels different and how so much feels the same when I think of what it was like to write my last novel. It's certainly a long, involved, highly daunting process, but despite how timid I might still be about the whole thing, I know from experience that it's a very rewarding one. There's a story in my head, and like most of the stories in my head, I don't know precisely where it came from--I know only that it's asking to be told, and it's my job to channel it. That makes it sound like a chore, but it's not (even though, at times, the process of sitting down to type things out can feel a little bit grueling; usually it's a lot more enjoyable, though).

One of the scariest things about the whole thing, though, is facing an unwritten novel as some kind of Great Unknown. For me, the elements of my stories and the world around them are almost like things that I discover more than things I make up; so, when I'm writing the novel I am now, I need to remind myself that it's okay that I'm not 100% sure where everything is going or how all of the pieces are going to line up. The word I like to use for storytelling that goes smoothly is organic--and I forget, very often, that there was a time when my first novel was only a string of vaguely-connected ideas, and it was up to me to determine how it all went together.

Thinking about that, it's comforting to see the similarities to my current novel and my previous one, here in the planning stages: I have the conflict, I have the characters, I have the setting, a very strong visual image of the climax, and half of the ending. I have a vague idea of what's going on during the middle of the story.

But really, I think that's part of the fun of actually writing a big story like this: I get to find out for myself what happens as I fill in those blanks, and if I'm telling the story correctly, it'll all grow organically into place in order to end up where it needs to.

The other exciting thing about that is that I know that there are events and characters and happenings that are going to surprise me. There are things in store that I'm 100% unaware of, and when I figure out what they are, I will probably squeak with delight as I fervently jot down a note in my notebook or pound out a paragraph on my keyboard. I recall quite clearly the moment of epiphany that I had at Burbank Airport when I was halfway through my last novel and the events of the second half just suddenly fell into place inside my head, and I look forward to that "Eureka!" happening to me again this second time around.

Most importantly, though, I think that I have a fun, engaging, and meaningful story that folks will enjoy reading, and I'll be very happy if I can get all of those words out into a form that other people get to see someday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hard at Work

Well, I'm still definitely writing--although I can't say I'm doing a good job of finishing a lot. I still have a lot of half-finished and just-barely-started projects in hand, and I also put a few more nails in my own coffin by starting up another novel. I'm at least doing better, lately, with forcing myself to sit down and write when the time arises (and in forcing time in my schedule to arise), so hopefully, sometime semi-soon, I'll start putting the finishing touches on some short stories.

Last month, I took a two-week seminar course on how to incorporate tension and conflict into writing, and that was actually incredibly helpful. It's hard not to keep what I learned in mind as I write, which is a good thing. After all, as much as writing might be a talent, it's also a skill, and like any skill, if you want to do it well, you can't let yourself be sloppy. In a way, the more I learn, the harder writing gets, since there's more and more to be consciously aware of while actually in the process, but I think that the writing I end up with turns out better, as a result, and if that's the case, I'm all for it.

On a more specifically-furry note, the 2006 Ursa Major Awards open voting on this coming Saturday, March 10. The nominations are already set, but we don't get to see what's up for voting until then. I'm actually kind of excited about that: I'm eligible for at least, er, one piece, I think, personally, but there are a lot of other great works of furry fiction that I had the pleasure to read last year that I hope get the recognition they deserve. Time will tell!