I’ve been working on a manuscript for nearly a year. It’s been a troubling experience and I don’t know why it’s proving so difficult although I have a couple of thoughts. One…it’s so different than anything I have ever written. I like light writing. Both previous books have been light with a just a pinch of serious seasoning. The one I’m trying to complete is precisely the opposite. Overall I’m happy but it is so dark in places that I sometimes don’t want to go there. I read the words but they don’t sound like me and although I think I did well I’m not comfortable with how it sounds. This is, I think, my second reason for having so much difficulty. I’m not me and a Snickers ain’t gonna help.
So, to take respite from my woeful endeavors, I opened up a few of my old starter files and discovered a whole new world, most of which I’d forgotten. The people that inhabit this place are just as new but they feel like old friends. The story-lines are interesting but undeveloped.
That’s where the four characters come in. They’re of the new but familiar kind of people and totally unrelated to my main writing project. They’re fresh and eager to be drawn out and I sense some gold just below the surface.
As I roughed out a bit of an introduction and an opening scene to this new project I found myself enjoying writing more than I have in months. It’s been almost a chore to sit at the keyboard as my lack of blog posting indicates. With each of these characters I can draw on my life’s experiences from my days in radio broadcasting to bookselling and everything in-between. I guess it goes back to writing what you know.
I’m not done with my current manuscript and it will be completed but I think it’s time for a vacation with four new friends that will let my imagination run wild.
I see a part of me in each of them and I’m anxious to throw them into situations that will bring out the best in them and hopefully serve up some old time philosophies and humor to boot. I’m intending this to be more like the first two books with different characters and perhaps a little mystery-solving thrown in to give them the stage.
A quick tease, which apparently I’m supposed to include in a blog, is vanilla pudding. It’s the first befuddlement of Ned, the personality I most identify with. He and I both feel that vanilla is the boring aunt of the pudding family, the smelly one you put up with because she’s rich and makes good cookies. It’s nice (and serves the purpose somewhat) but given their choice most people would move on to chocolate or butterscotch pudding. In the annals of dessert warfare vanilla is always the pudding left behind. Vanilla would say ‘You go on without me and save yourselves’ and the other puddings would go on without him and save themselves because vanilla was…well, vanilla.
Ah yes…there’s a certain comfort in writing about vanilla pudding.
After taking a few days break (mostly due to stumbling blocks in the story-line and a new RC car) I seem to be back on track. During the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with the sequel to White Wolf Moon. I have this nagging recurring thought that pops into my mind every time I hit a block in the writing. Do the sales justify a sequel or should I be working on another, totally different story-line? A month or so ago I split the difference and started a second project using mostly the same characters in what would be a prequel and I’m actually quite pleased with the progress. It answers the questions that some readers have had regarding the background of the characters and gives a more serious insight into what brought about White Wolf Moon. I’m also continuing with the planned sequel which picks up two weeks after the events in the original story. This is where I seem to need a shot every now and then because it’s here that my nagging thought arises. What amazes me is that just when I’m seriously questioning which way to go, something happens to make the decision for me.
In the past few days two things have started the ideas flowing and the fingers going again. I was downtown shopping when I ran into one of the older fellas that bought my book. He told me he was on his third read-through and picking up on a lot that he’d missed, especially the hidden philosophies and song titles. He also mentioned he’d lent it to a friend and she loved it and both of them are waiting for the second book.
Then, last night, I was returning some movie rentals to our corner store. The girl behind the counter had bought White Wolf Moon about three months ago and had also lent it to friends who apparently liked it. She finally got her copy back and was reading it for a second time. We stood and chatted about it for a few minutes then I went home. Ten minutes later I received a phone call from her. Another customer had overheard our conversation and wanted to know more about the book…then decided she needed to have a copy (signed) as well.
Events like this remind me of the many comments about the book over the last five months…mostly good, mostly wanting to know more about the characters, and a lot of requests for a follow-up. I think I’d forgotten how much interest is out there and it takes a little nudge every so often to remind me that pretty much everyone that had actually read it wanted more.
What’s encouraging to me is how little it takes to get me fired up again. It tells me that I must be on the right track. I’m still playing around with a prequel…perhaps it will be the third act…I don’t know. I do know that my main goal now is finishing the sequel and I seem to have once again found that silly spark that I need to put these characters into some original and off-the-wall situations. With the first book there was a mixed reaction. The story itself is a combination of serious sixties history and modern-day situations. Most preferred the modern-day side of it (especially the character dialogue and banter) and quickly read through the serious interviews; anxious to get back to the people they’d grown to love. This is more what the sequel is about. It’s a lot lighter than the original and leans more toward humor in dialogue and scenario…although there is some drama concerning one of the main characters.
I think the big key now is that I’m back to having fun with the people in the story and the words and dialogue are coming faster than I can type.
To paraphrase a common saying…happy author, happy characters!