So I stared at The Stupid Novel, poked at it, prodded it, and kicked it, and it sprawled there, unmoving and lifeless.
My difficulty completing The Stupid Novel, and all the novel predecessors languishing unfinished and pathetic on my hard drive, has got me wondering if I’ve been brash in my presumption that “writing is writing,” and if there are fundamental differences in strategies for writing a longer work versus a short story that I don’t know/have the experience to implement. Makes me wanna do a study comparing and contrasting the writing styles and processes of novelists versus short story writers…which sadly sounds hella more fun than thrashing alive The Stupid Novel.
But The Stupid Novel must be resurrected. So I decided to take my friend, Ari Marmell, up on his offer to rant and vent and whimper talk shop about novel-writing. And our back and forth has crystallized a niggling sense of absent voice I’ve been trying to ignore.
My frequent breaks from this project have inevitably blunted some of the internal tangibility I had for my characters: how they think and react, what they’d say and do, who they are. I wanted to focus on putting new words on the page, rather than getting bogged down in rehashing/revising what I’ve already written, so I’ve been avoiding a re-read of the earlier stuff. But it’s past time for me to admit that I’m beyond “bogged” and into “complete paralysis.”
Once more unto the breach. Rah.
Yeah, if I'd been thinking--a bad habit, which I really try to avoid whenever possible--I'd have remembered that you were coming back to TSN after a long break, and the first thing I'd have suggested was a reread. :-}
I had to do something similar, when I was asked to write The Warlord's Legacy. Since it'd been a while, I had to go back and reread The Conqueror's Shadow, in order to recapture some character voices. (Fortunately, I also had some edits to do on TCS, so I was able to do both, but...)
But definitely, see if the scene comes any easier to you once you've got the characters' voices in your head again. (And if not, I'm happy to keep discussing, or even look over some rough chunks of the text.)