Writinertia

I was talking to my roommate about my recent deluge of writing progress this morning and I told her something I’d just realized (or maybe realized again–my memory, it is not so good): I am the law of inertia personified. You know that old saw: an object at rest will stay at rest, whilst an object in motion (divorced from any outside forces like gravity and wind resistance, etc.) will stay in motion? Or, as Newton would have it, Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare? Yeah, that. I’m that, in writing form.

I say this because I think I’ve finished the last of my AUT revisions for Joanna, meaning that very soon, possibly now, the fate of it is no longer in my hands. First comes the submissions, then comes the inevitable rejections (I’m not even saying this negatively; I know that rejection is a part of this business and I think–although I’m probably wrong–that I’m amply prepared for it), and then hopefully comes the offer (or maybe more! Probs not, though) of acquisition. I’m jazzed for all this new exciting stuff, but I also know that I have to put my nose to the grindstone and work on my next novel, if for no other reason than I need something to occupy my thoughts as the publishing industry ticks along at its at-times-frustratingly slow pace.

Tentatively intialed MB, the next novel is another YA mystery that I actually started last summer (I think; at any rate, a while ago) when I had put AUT aside for many months to give it some time to percolate. I wrote a detailed Dramatis Personae list and summary, six chapters and a prologue, and then left it at that while I worked on revising AUT and concentrated on querying agents. That rather solid foundation has been sitting on my computer for almost a year now and as of Wednesday, when I sent J my most recent revisions, I started working on them again.

GOD, it is nice to have a summary. Writing a mystery is hard work, I don’t know how I did it the first time without one (I figured most of AUT out during the two years before I wrote it for my thesis, but a lot of the twists and turns didn’t come to me until I actually wrote it, which is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking). I really do like to work everything out beforehand, to live with the story for months–ride the subway with it, listen to music related to it, talk to the characters and figure out who they are and what they want–before even putting a word on the page, and now writing MB is super easy because I have all the facts of the mystery figured out and every time I get to the end of a chapter or a scene or whatever and I’m all, “What comes next?” I can just refer to the summary and write that. It’s sort of like Wordsworth’s nun in her cloistered cell–the summary’s restrictions (a mystery is sort of like a choreographed dance–one misstep and everything changes, perhaps for the better, but still, it’s a rhythm breaker) allow me to be more creative with my dialogue (my favorite thing to write, especially with these two characters who I LOVE) and character development and introspective moments. Honestly, the summary takes a lot of the pressure off–instead of having to think up events (since I’ve already thought those up) I get to write jokes and fun emotional stuff.

(Side note: I wrote the funniest joke (well, I think it’s pretty amazing) on the subway yesterday on my way to the Village for dinner with my friends and we were going out afterwards (BTW, Sway is a very weird bar) so I only had a small purse for the essentials and no pen and no paper and I was like, “If I lose this, it will be a tragedy.” So I text messaged the joke to myself, and even though I got home at 3 AM I stayed up just to write the joke in my MS. If MB ever hits the shelves, I promise to reveal which joke this was, mostly because I’m a narcissist and I am SO DAMN PROUD OF IT.)

Anyway, I think I’ve strayed from my essential point, which is that I always have to keep writing because if I stop, it’s SO hard to get going again. Which is why I finished the majority of AUT the way it is now in one five-month spurt last year (also, I had a deadline, because it was my MA thesis and I wanted to, you know, graduate) because I just kept going and going and going. Getting back to work on MB was so difficult because I hadn’t worked on it for so long, but once I jump-started my creative impulse it’s been incredibly smooth sailing–I’ve written about thirty pages in the last few days, which is a nice steady pace and good output. But, living in New York means a flood of forces that can slow my progress, so it’s become important to me to squirrel away time enough to write a decent amount of stuff before venturing out into the real world full of friends and work and people trying to grope me on the subway (real story, happened yesterday, freaked me out, don’t really want to talk about it; yesterday was a super-weird-stranger day). Cross your fingers that I can keep it up long enough to bang out a first draft of MB by the end of August. I think I can do it!

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