I spent a good part of yesterday with new characters “Brad” and “Clémence,” as well as with a couple of “old timers,” and filling in additional details and description in several chapters. In the process, I dropped in a couple of thousand more words at least. I became so immersed in it all, I lost track of the time.
The afternoon flew by. As I finished up, I realized again just how unwilling I am to let go of “my friends” quite yet. I’m not “done” with them by any means.
I ended up again pondering what could follow immediately after Distances. I know there will be a fourth novel eventually, and I already know its very general contours. But I’m now pretty drained mentally from writing these first three, and I suspect I will need something of a “sabbatical” to recharge.
I had been mulling over the idea of taking “six months” post-Distances and declaring, “Eh, that’ll do for now.” It seemed reasonable. After all, three novels of nearly 100,000 words each over three years is nothing to sneeze at.
The way information flies at us is now unprecedented. Masses comes our way, and we “gulp” down lots. But it’s hard to know how much we honestly can process.
Moreover, social media conveys a happy impression that we all live, more or less, in the same “space” – if not precisely the same geographic place. We’re seemingly required as well to have opinions on just about everything happening, and everywhere. And we have to have them immediately.
You find yourself worn out now and then? I do. This weekend was one of those times.
Saturday morning, one of my Twitter lists had displayed this. All at the same time. Seriously:
I have literally awoken at times around 3am, my mind for some reason fixating on some plot point or statement. I wonder, “Did I leave *that* out? Did she say that?” It’s a sick feeling that can ruin a night’s sleep.
So far – luckily – whenever I have had that happen, on frantic double-checking I discover everything is fine, and I breathe out. When writing a series, you need a perfect memory. You can’t miss a thing, because even a minor oversight or “misremembering” a tiny “fact” from earlier can prove pretty embarrassing later on.
I’ve been rereading Passports at length over the last few days. It’s the first time I’ve done so in at least a year. As I do, I’m finding I’m also struck by how the books are “evolving” from that opener.
Yesterday evening I hit one of my interim targets for Distances, the third novel. Every chapter in the manuscript is now, more or less, under control. The scope of the book is largely settled.
Within my outline, I write wherever my mind takes me. I “finished” the book somewhere in middle of the last third of it, when two chapters that had been only “skeletons” up to that point were filled in generally at last. Having done that, I sat stunned briefly.
My mind then took me forward to the next book. I’m unprepared mentally to say “goodbye” to these characters yet. Quickly, I stopped myself from thinking that far ahead.
Another installment of that book series is upon us. A Newsweek reviewer (interestingly, by name a man, although the books do appear aimed primarily at women, and are written by a woman; but I don’t want to disgress down that path here), disparages it this way:
Cinemax softcore masquerading as fiction
Really? So then it’s perfect to adapt into a possibly “award-winning” cable TV series? Just shift the tale and main characters to, say, Rhode Island?
Twitter is awash with writers tweeting thoughts, adages, self-help sayings and writing “rules.” Some are useful, some tiresome. This one got tweeted into my timeline the other day:
“Number one rule for fiction: Coincidence can be used to worsen a character’s predicament, but never to solve his problems.”
Never having seen it before, I googled it. Many others have used it. Although that writer tweeted it as if it were his thought (and has thus far got some 30 odd retweets with it), it was not his original thought.
….Jane Austen quotes are usually apt and mostly timeless. (In case you didn’t know, I’m an Austen fan.) In citing that I’m also just having some fun with this “sneak peek” into Distances. For how often have we all seen something like this?
It begins with two couples…. and a fifth person. The latter is unattached (or even on the verge of becoming unattached). At some point that person has caught the eye of an unattached acquaintance of one of those friends…. and that friend, after having been prodded, cajoled, and even begged by that smitten acquaintance into concocting a pairing, finally gives in:
Happy 1st of June. And we didn’t meet them halfway. We went to them. Yesterday, we drove to Christchurch (about an hour and a half away) to visit with a former neighbor couple there.
In a sense, it felt like “going home.” The town is much the same. And the house we’d owned for a decade until 2013 – well, there it stood. (They aren’t huge fans of the people who’ve bought it. We’ve never laid eyes on them and still haven’t.)
The husband (he’s about my father’s age) and I were alone at one point and chatting. He told me they were in Tenerife, in their flat (in the end, they didn’t sell it), and his Mrs. was sitting in the lounge reading Frontiers. “Across the room,” he said to me, “I hear this laugh, and she looks at me, points out a page, and says, ‘What did he do?! That’s me! The so and so! Darling, he’s written about us!'”