I just looked at the calendar and nearly snarfed up my coffee. Holy time-skedaddling, Batman! I’ve got a mere two months and eleven days (but who’s counting) until BLISS hits the stands. My fear is that it will do so with a distinct thud, but I know I should have more faith than that – in the efforts of my publisher, if not on the fates of fickle fame (or the enemies of alliteration). I have so many hopes for my baby BLISS. Three years in the making, it’s crafted from countless nights of worry, nearly as many days of joyful coffee house writing sessions, and quite a few teeth-gnashing, self-doubting long, dark, teatimes of the soul (thanks, Douglas Adams).
Yet now it’s time to leave BLISS behind and focus on my new novel, with 99% more fuzzy animals, a towering, redheaded heroine, a grumpy hero and… a poltergeist. To say more would be giving things away without hope of royalties, but I will say that Merry is an adventurer with a lot to learn about the true nature of adventure, and there’ll be a lotta llama beans (you read that right), potential hot springs shenanigans, and a guy who knows how to make fire.
As I progress with this as-yet-unnamed but strikingly foof-filled book, I’m faced with the big questions about what makes for a satisfying novel – in my genre, anyway. I know what I want: each chapter to tickle me, charm me, or alarm me; a setting that isn’t done to death; and the chance to root for someone to accomplish or overcome things I myself would want to. So how to accomplish this?
As a writer, I’m sure I’m not alone in puzzling over technical issues. Most of them have to do with the trick of being invisible while you orchestrate the whole damn circus — fleas, Flying Wolendas, and all.
“How do I cram this backstory into the narrative without actually being seen to do so?”
“Will this flashback completely confuse, derail, or utterly bore my readers?”
“Is Dolly’s accent authentic, and… wait, where the heck does she actually come from?”
Sometimes I forget this ain’t my first metaphorical rodeo. I’ve stared down these challenges before, and whipped, cajoled, and wept them into submission. And I forget that it’s fun doing so. The worst day of writing is better than the best day in somebody else’s cubicle, and, until I’m offered a job sponge-bathing Benedict Cumberbatch or taste-testing world class pain au chocolat, it ain’t likely to get any better than this.
So I’ll remember my gratitude, and get to work.