Sunday, July 27, 2008

Musings Among Valley Vineyards

Messy Beginnings
By Kelly Pollard

After endless months of rewriting and fine-tuning my young adult novel BLUSH to prepare it for agent submissions, I find myself back to square one: forging a new journey with a new set of characters, different time period (hello 1971!) and a fresh, emotional landscape. It's a messy, murky idea for a story and the only thing that keeps me tethered to some semblance of structure is a fire-orange workbook titled Book in A Month.

I am guilty of spending more time reading about the craft of writing than actually practicing the tidbits I'm learning. It kind of reminds me of those months of new motherhood I spent pouring over any self-help parenting book instead of just parenting. So I vowed to stop losing myself in books that tell me how to do a certain something, instead striking out and actually doing.

Well, I broke my self imposed ban on these handy self-help books during a browsing session at my local bookstore after a caffeinated rant with my writer friend about our mutual blocks on our projects.

My block played out as follows:

Kernal of an idea planted over ten years ago when I lost a friend as a result of his bipolar depression and four suicide attempts and one attempt that did the job.

Sat to write a story about what happens to those left behind after losing someone in a horrific, violent fashion. But couldn't do it, so started another story which took me through almost three years of drafting, rewriting, critiquing and submitting.

This summer, picked up that story kernal once again and began to write.

Executed an extremely schizophrenic relationship with the would-be novel's point of view.

First person, past tense, one narrator.

Then three separate narrators in varying combinations of first and third person viewpoints.

You name the combination and I wrote it. And stopped. Then opened a new file on the computer for yet another draft.

That day in the bookstore, a flashy orange workbook caught my eye in the writing reference section. Victoria Lynn Schmidt's Book in a Month found it's way into my arms and has been my gentle friend these past two weeks. With a set deadline, I charged through pages, finally settling on the viewpoint that works with the plot. Two weeks of falling in love with my characters and the surprises they have thrown my way. Schmidt has been my invisible teacher, holding my hand every day and guiding me through pointed worksheets about character motivations, plot snapshots and my own personal reason for writing this book. And this is an intensely personal book for me, no matter that the beings that inhabit it are pure fiction.

It won't be done in a month, but possibly the first draft will be punched into my laptop by the time my oldest starts kindergarten at the end of August.

As of today, I'm on Day 12 and up to page 67 in the new manuscript.

Status today:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for you on powering through those pages! I'm curious about the book you're using, so I may have to check it out.