When I'm writing a book, I prefer not to rush the process. Bringing the characters to life, working out the plot details, uncovering the theme or themes and figuring out how everything connects--imagery to theme to plot to character, etc., requires time. In order to get it right, I do best with plenty of months to put it all down, let it all percolate and brew. Sometimes a tight deadline pushes me along faster than I like. Or, sometimes, I fret over a story and procrastinate and put it aside, come back to it, then put it aside again and again, usually out of fear that I won't do the story justice, that I can't make it as fantastic on paper as it is in my mind. My young adult novel, for instance. The idea for this story came to me something like four years ago, and I started working on it immediately. It wasn't all procrastination and fretting that made me set it aside repeatedly; I signed contracts to write four other novels, all with somewhat short deadlines. I wasn't under contract for the YA, so I had to attend to the paying work first! Since finishing up those contracted books a couple of months ago, I've gone back to the YA, working on it almost daily. And fretting. And dragging my feet. So I've given myself a deadline. I WILL reach the end of the story by May 15, then spend the last half of the month reading it and digging deeper and molding it into shape. I'm zipping it off to my agent on June 1. You heard it here! I've said it, now I MUST follow through! I'll keep you posted.
This weekend, I took a detour on the path I'd planned for my reading. I have wanted to read the YA novel SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson for a long time, so when I saw it at Barnes and Noble, I bought it and temporarily postponed the book I was about to begin. I finished SPEAK in two nights. It's a great story. Dark and funny and heartbreaking, at once. The author perfectly captured the voice of a troubled teenaged outcast. I ached for Melinda and laughed at the wicked sense of humor she maintained even in the face of almost unbearable depression and humiliation. I really admired the author's skill in making me know exactly what emotion her character was feeling at any given time without "telling" me. Ms. Anderson's writing is subtle and powerful. This novel is a former National Book Award finalist. After reading it, that's no surprise to me. I highly recommend it for older adults as well as young ones!
Back to the writing! Happy Monday,