Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Now What?" She Said.

There comes a time in the life cycle of every novel, when the person writing it has to stop and ask herself just what in the fuck she thinks she's doing. For me, this usually hits around page fifty, when I have to start making the Big Momentous Decisions. Not whether it's going to be a comedy or a tragedy--most of my stuff has elements of both--but all the other ones I've been dodging while I was flying by the seat of my pants and just, you know, making it up as I was going along. Such as: Where am I going with this? The Lifetime Movie Channel or The Horror Channel? Is it gonna be an Oprah's Book Club reject or would it be more properly rejected by Fangoria? I mean, okay, we've established that our protagonist wants to kill himself, and we sort of know why, but what are we going to do about that? Is he going to snap out of it? Be dragged out of it kicking and screaming, like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life? (See this post.) Or is he going to be plunged into some crazy adventure, in which he has to keep risking his life over and over again, and when it's over he suddenly realizes he doesn't want to die anymore?

Knowing me, it's almost certain to be that last thing. But then we've got to get to how. What kind of crazy adventure? We're in Central America, so the possibilities are pretty darn endless. Hey, how about he goes swinging through the jungle, being chased by monkeys and Shia LeBouf, looking for a crystal skull so he can keep it out of the hands of the Russians? Oh, wait, that's been done. Badly.

And let's not forget about those other tangled threads of plot that I've tossed out there. That's the problem with just writing fifty pages and not planning anything. You end up with these little story lines that have to go someplace or else you'll have people asking you for the rest of your life what was the deal with the aunt and the lawn chairs, anyway, and there's only so many times you can say, "Oh, uh, the editor cut that part." Yeah, right. As if editors have that kind of power. Half the time you're lucky if they even catch your spelling errors. (And that's assuming I even have one. You would assume wrong. No agent, no contract; hence no editor--and I spell the word "the" wrong all the darn time.)

On the other hand, sometimes half the fun of all this is solving all the problems. If there's any one particular skill I have that Looks Good on a Resume, it's that I like to solve large complicated problems. And I'm good at it. What is a lawsuit but a large complicated problem? Scheduling a deposition? Same thing. Motion to compel? Line 'em up, I'll knock 'em down. And yes, writing a book is the largest, most complicated problem of all. That's probably why I do it. That, and my brain needs a regular vacation from this thing called Life. I'm a Buddhist, so no drugs, alcohol or gambling (or sugar--working on that, working on that)--so it's either this or watch a lot of television, and trust me, there isn't a channel out there worthy of that much attention. Except maybe SyFy on Horror Night, and even then they tend to show a lot of movies with titles like "Sharktopus in 3D." I mean, eesh.

December was kind of peaceful around here. I just wrote, churning out that first fifty pages. The Query Letter Express more or less ground to a halt. All the November Novel folks start querying on December 1, and nobody in New York works in December anyway, so there's kind of no point. But now it's January and I've gotta not only start working on the letters again, I've got to sort out what I'm going to do with this large complicated problem that I've dropped in my own lap. I'm sure I'll think of something - I always do - but for the moment I sort of want to distract myself with a video game or another online legal course or maybe just another decaf Americano with sugar-free vanilla syrup.

Okay, okay. You don't need to nag. I'm getting back to work, already. If you see Shia LeBouf, tell him to swing this way. Er, on second thought, I don't need to know which way he swings.

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