One of the things a writer needs to learn is that every book, every project, is going to have different needs. It’s not going to come out the same way, or in the same time frame, or with the same struggles or ease. Books, rather like people, are all unique, and all require slightly different handling to get them to be the best they possibly can be.
I’m battling against that knowledge with my current project (The Book That Refused to Die) and have been trying to explain that to the creator of a comic I’ve been scripting. I don’t think he gets it.
Why? Because I told him I don’t typically work with outlines, and he took that to mean I cannot work from outlines. Not what I said, dude, but no matter how many times I say “I can outline.” “Let me outline.” “No, that’d take for fucking ever and cut too much into my noveling, LET ME DO THE GODDAMNED OUTLINE!” he just doesn’t seem to hear me.
But enough of that. We’ll get it worked out. Probably after I write the damn outline and then stuff it down his throat.
Anyway! Back to the The Book That Refused to Die.
Normally I’m a very linear, sit down, chew it out, stuff it in a draw type of writer. Oh sure, sometimes I’ll have to do some plot sketching with index cards, or do a web to keep track of all the various evil villains plotting in the background, but usually once I start a novel, I don’t write anything else (except comic pages and blog posts, obviously) until it’s finished.
Not so with The Book That Refused to Die.
I don’t know if it’s the plot, the mystery elements, the focus on amateur sleuthing as opposed to other sources of conflict and drama, but I’ve had to sit back and let this draft more often, and for longer stretches of time, than any other book I’ve written to day. And to be perfectly honest, it’s starting to drive me batty. The best solution, so far, has been to step back and *gasp!* write on something else for a while.
Yes, that bugs the snot out of me, because I hate leaving things unfinished, and often times if I stop working on one thing to start working on The Book That Refused to Die again, it’ll stay unfinished and I really don’t want to take more time away from my novel than I absolutely have to. But, that seems to be what this book needs for it to come together.
Annoying. Frustrating. Depressing. The whole damn process has had me wondering, more than once, if I’m writer enough to finish it and do it justice.
The plus side of all this is working on something else keeps me from feeling like a total failure. Which I’m not. I’m a decent writer, damnit, and even if it takes me another four months, I will get this book drafted, and it will be GOOD. Maybe not great, but I’d be happy settling for better than a steaming pile of shit.
So it’s coming. Slowly. With breaks of working on other things while it dives behind the curtains and gets its clothes on straight again before the next round of book vs. writer wrestling. This book needs that. I’m willing to give it to it, and trust that I’m doing it right.
Not that there’s such a thing as a right or wrong way to right a book. You just write the thing however it demands to be written.