SO I read the aborted sequel--which really needs to be a stand-alone mystery--making notes, slashing out big sections of mind-numbing telling-not-showing scenes and in general getting really excited again about the whole story. In other words, having fun. Then I went through the draft again, putting all the major scenes on sticky notes in "shorthand". Next I cleared the all-purpose table of Christmas wrap, newspapers, the fruit basket, coffee cups, tape dispenser, stapler, scissors, etc., etc. and wiped it clean. The sticky notes got laid out in order so I could study them and then change the order of events if it seemed wise. It did, a little. Next came color coding. I got out my colored pencils, choose different colors for different characters and settings so I could see who came into the story where and add scenes when too big a lapse came, for example, between the appearances of a certain character or a certain setting. (This is really difficult to explain but I hope you're getting the idea.) My attempt was to externalize the whole process--take it out of my brain, which pops up scenes and ideas in any order it chooses, and see it in front of me. I'm tring to be objective about the whole thing. To see it as the reader would. Killed some real darlings in the process and they're staying dead. Now I need to write a whole new opening and feeling a little nervous about it. I'm putting it off by writing this, by checking my email, by sitting in silence and listening to the rain.
“Hold on to the heart of what first makes you want to tell a story—that seed of inspiration, that character that haunts you, the moments you long to crystallize and bring to life. My goal is to couple that holding on with a practice of staying loose and softened and humble—remembering that the task is about questions, not answers.”
Is a writer someone who does not write every day? Or even every week? (GASP) Then I am not a writer. A "spurt writer", I call myself. I write when the mood strikes or an idea keeps biting my ankle and won't let go, or sometimes when I'm just plain ashamed of myself for being so lazy. Despite all this I've somehow managed to write a dozen MG and YA novels (thirteen counting my adult novel, Call It A Gift.) Spurt writers can blitz when they want to, or need to--meeting a deadline for revision, for example. I love writing. I'm never more alive than when I'm caught up in a character's life, going places I haven't been or didn't know I was going. I've just finished The Last Best Days Of Summer which will debut in the Spring of 2010, another Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux book. Frances has been my editor since 1998 and I hope she always will be. She's simply amazing.