Writing, books, and me
So I’ve recently been kicking around the idea of writing a book . Again. It cycles around regularly, and I’ve been pretty good at talking myself out of it for one reason or another (the old monster, Resistance, coming into play). First of all, what would I write, fiction or non-fiction? Or perhaps memoir? My most recent incarnation was a non-fiction idea for canine health, focussing on canine epilepsy. In a quick perusal of Amazon I found a comprehensive, well reviewed book already written on the topic that I’d forgotten about (I never purchased it because of the cost–$30 for a medium length paperback seems a little much). Dang. What now?
I actually have two novels about half written. I occasionally go back and reread, find that they’re pretty darn good, if I do say so, and even start adding to them. After my computer hard drive crashed last year I haven’t gotten back to them (they’d been saved to disc about 8 months before the crash). I’m embarrassed to say how long ago I started them, but let’s just leave it at “over 10 years.” After my ex-husband and I split up, I read a lot. Well, I always read a lot, but I found I read a lot of romance novels, whether in an effort to imagine a happy ending, when mine so obviously wasn’t, or just flat out escape from reality, it was classic, perhaps even Freudian. I quickly found out why they’re often called “trashy romance” and of course “bodice rippers.” A lot of them are dismally bad, bringing to mind the immortal Dorothy Parker book review line: “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force.” And I did that on more than one occasion. Whether from bad writing, poor plotting, obnoxious or simpering characters, bad dialogue, or other element, I learned to stick to a few authors who could (and do) deliver excellent writing, good stories with beleiveable plots, and strong female characters with whom you could imagine sitting down and having a cup of coffee. In answer to the many subpar books, I said to myself, I can do this, and sat down to write. I even took a class on writing romance, where the class assignments each week was a book list of various well known authors. I read my first, and last, Danielle Steele novel for one week’s assignment and continue to wonder at her bestseller success, though I don’t want to single her out – there are plenty of bestseller status writers of all genres that make me scratch my head in wonder. And I’m no literary snob, if that hasn’t already been established by the topic. Crap writing, plotting, dialogue all show up on the best seller lists regularly. But hey, at least people are reading something. Right?
Anyway, I found out that writing a decent, non-cringe inducing romance novel isn’t as easy as it sounds. And it explains the many not so decent ones out there. The same could be said for mystery novels, suspense/thrillers, horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. Writing a page turner worth reading is hard work, with edits and rewriting as important as the original idea.
This year I toyed with saddling up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, held every November. From November 1 to November 30, the goal is to write 50,000 words, roughly a 175 page novel. It’s gotten more sophisticated over the years, with a website where you can sign up (it started out a mere decade ago with a group of writers in the Bay Area), forums, and tracking tools. When I read the rules, I realized I wasn’t up for it, since my idea was to use my half written novels as a start. No can do, it has to be from scratch. Okay, maybe next year. In the meantime, where’s that back up disc?