Friday, February 22, 2008

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned.

It's been three weeks since my last confession. Eh – they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. If that's true, you folks must freakin' love me.

Truth is, there's been plenty of progress of late, writing-wise, it just doesn't always make for the compellingest blogging. I'm nearing 200 pages on the WIP, and it looks like I've set myself up nicely to careen to a violent, smoking wreck of an ending (um, in a good way) right around the 250 mark. Too short, you say? Normally, I'd agree, but there's a B-story still to be dealt with – five scenes or so to be peppered throughout the book that will tie things together nicely. I've got it all sketched out, but I've yet to write it, because I want to take a pass at reading the A-story first, to make sure I hit every beat just right.

Thus far, writing the new book differs dramatically from my experience in writing The Angels' Share. I think that's partly due to the fact that one was outlined while the other was not, and partly due to the fact that, tonally, they're very different works. If I've done my job right, The Angels' Share is a long, slow sip of Islay malt: explosive up front, but with an underlying complexity that unfolds over time. The WIP, on the other hand, is a shot of cheap bourbon, searing and relentless. With luck, it's a ton of fun as well (I'm shooting for thrill-ride, not bleak-ass noirer-than-thou bum-out).

Despite their differences, though, the writing of The Angels' Share greatly informed the writing of the new book in so many ways, not least of which is the fact that I now have a far greater understanding of what bits to put into a book, and what bits to leave out. As an avid (rabid?) reader for as long as I can remember, you'd think I'd have known this from the get-go, but it's trickier than one might imagine. With The Angels' Share, I ended up trimming somewhere in the ballpark of 30,000 words, and believe me, the book is better for it. With the new book, I think I've avoided some of the meandering I fell victim to last time, and as a result, I suspect I'll have a lot less to cut. I hesitate to say I'm getting the hang of this novel-writing thing, because the Gods of Fiction are fickle, spiteful (wonderful, charming, and did I mention good-looking?) creatures, but I'm psyched to realize how much I've already learned.

In conclusion, Libya is a land of many contrasts. No, wait, that's not it. But to wrap up this rambling post, I guess what I'm left with are two books that on the face of things are very different, but are in fact (for me, at least) flip-sides of the same literary coin. With one finished and the other getting there, I've realized I'm not yet ready to part with either of them so soon. The new WIP was conceived as a series, so no surprise there; what does surprise me is that Alex's story is not yet finished. So can a fledgling writer gain traction for two series at once? Honestly, I have no idea. One thing's for sure, though: I plan to find out. Also, I really have to learn to write faster. After all, I want to see how these stories end...