Well, I have been very lazy busy and haven’t written here in ages. It shames me even to see how long it has been.
Partly I’ve been writing and re-writing a new book, which is exciting and fun and crazy all at one time. I don’t mind telling you that the characters for this one are not at all the docile, cooperative types that will just sit down and tell me their story, straight-out, the way I like to hear it. Apparently they don’t care how I like to work at all. Instead of just explaining things to me, they get scrappy and decide that they want things to go a whole different way than I had hoped for them. The main character, a woman named Julia, even objected to her name!
I am willing to be reasonable with them as far as possible. I know that unhappy characters can wreck a whole book in no time. They can go bad, like teenagers you’ve grounded and now wish you hadn’t. These are waking me up in the middle of the night to tell me whole new plot lines they’ve thought up for themselves (“Wait! I have a brother who robs banks! Yeah, that’s right–and my mom used to drop acid and ran away to join the circus!”)
You can see how a person who is living with a bunch of folks like this in her head might have trouble making her way over to a blog to write something coherent.
In the meantime, though, I’ve also discovered the joys of teaching fiction and memoir to some very dear, talented students…and there are days, sitting around the table, drinking iced tea and munching on scones and listening to other people fashion their plots, that I feel deeply sorry for anyone who is not right now writing a novel.
I love the quote from the lovely Lee Smith, which I keep taped to the wall in my study: “When stuff in life gets really rough, I would just die if I was not writing a novel. Once you think it up, it’s like a whole other city with a little door, and every time you sit down to write you just open the door, and there you are–a wonderful vacation for two hours.”