The Writer’s Dilemma

An English friend has written a book. He was, he said, partly inspired by what I have done. It is also VERY different from my “relationships/ travel/ students/ expats” novel(s).

My wife has read the whole of his (still very rough) draft. It is a military/ adventure tale – American WWII pilots, Nazi scientists, flashes forwards and backwards to and from Northern Ireland and 1990s Boston. It’s dense, detailed, and well-researched stuff.

Yet I’m beginning now seriously to commiserate with my novelist uncle’s decrying that he just has no time to read others’ works. Eventually, I will read my friend’s manuscript completely. But I keep having to put it aside (sometimes for days), so I then forget what was going on and then I have to reread much that I had already read in order to get back into it fully. Wash, rinse, repeat.

There is so much out there I would like to read (including works by you I follow and who follow me on here). But I’m finding if I spend too much time reading what others write, I don’t get as much of my own writing done. It’s a dilemma.

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As books on Amazon do, my Passports novel has a sample available. I’ve so far posted on here two “sneak peeks” into bits from the coming sequel. (There will be more.) I tend to obsess on style, sentence form and words: “Oh, that comma doesn’t go there!” or “That word’s not right!” I aim for short, punchy paragraphs, with choppy, realistic conversation, and background description that does not distract from the story flow.

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I want readers to find themselves immersed in the lives of the characters (and perhaps make friends with them, and maybe even fall for one of them). My regular day often includes a blog post here, while I also try to maintain my daily goal of 3-5 pages of draft writing. That may not sound like much, but moving from a mess on some pages into crafting quality takes much more time than one might think it does. And with my novels being fictionalized autobiographical / biographical, while writing I’ve actually upset myself at times as I recounted happenings that did more or less once really occur in my life – and which I have now imposed on characters who are themselves versions of real people I know or have known.

So when I’m done writing for the day, I’ve often mentally about had it. I can’t then bring myself to delve into another book. Indeed, even when I’m not actually writing my book, I’m STILL thinking about my manuscript and my characters. I CAN’T STOP thinking about them.

I had always been an avid reader, but in the last 18 months I have become far less of one. I know I have to strike a balance between reading others and writing my own books. I just have not yet quite managed it.

Happy Friday! And have a good (and if in Britain, a good long) weekend. :-)

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