This is the beginning of a series of posts based on a short book I’m writing about the process I went through writing my first novel, The Rememberers. It’s called:
Novel In Progress,
Getting Started, Keeping It Going, Getting It Done
A Short Book About Process
I’m writing it so I can understand the mysterious process that writing long form fiction is.
It is of course, copyright 2013 Martin Edic
Introduction: No Writing Critique Here
In March of 2012 I started a novel. I’ve probably done this a half dozen times only to fail, usually somewhere around the 20,000 word mark. This time was different and for some time I didn’t understand why. But first, a little background. I am a professional writer with several nationally published books to my credit. I am well paid to do all kinds of marketing communications for companies, promotional writing. I am not afraid of writing, in fact I love doing it. But writing non-fiction of any kind is entirely different than writing a novel or a short story.
Fiction is pure creation, the making of something meaningful out of thin air. You may do research and pull from personal experience but you are still telling a story that you made up. If you’re not making it up or you’re basing it on experience you may be writing a memoir. That’s not what this book is about.
When I sat down to write my first novel last March I had a very loose idea, a title and a first line. I also had a different methodology for getting the damn thing done, completed. It was not an original method, in fact I’d been inspired by some of the greatest and most successful writers on the planet, people like Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King and Annie LaMott. It was a method I’d been perfectly aware of during my earlier failed attempts. But I had not used it. Instead I fell into two traps: Waiting for inspiration and the ‘perfection infection’. These two things killed my early attempts.
So, when I started The Rememberers (as that novel is titled) I made a few promises to myself to counter those two evils:
I would write on a regular schedule, regardless of how I felt.
I would keep moving forward without regard for whether what I was doing was any good.
I would do no revising, other than correcting obvious errors, until I was done
These three basic rules liberated me as a writer. As I continued writing I ran into some other basic rules that are subsets of these, rules that helped me keep going and eventually finish the story. But those rules were all basically subsets of the three that got me started. My experience with these rules or guidelines, or advice- call them what you will, is what this book is about.
There is no writing technique or critical advice here. I touch on things like POV, dialog, character development and tense because dealing with these things can create impediments to keeping it going and getting it done. But I only deal with them from process perspective. If you want feedback on whether you are good, its not here. Go to a workshop, especially if you crave attention and are a masochist.
What about getting published? Annie Lamott, who teaches writing classes that are probably wonderful because she actually writes, says that many of her students are almost solely focused on getting published, something you should not spend a second thinking about until you book is done, rewritten, vetted by some outside readers and professionally edited. I will briefly talk about publishing but, again, is not my subject. And BTW, no agent or publisher will look at any novel that is not complete, so stay focused and forget the road to riches. You don’t even have a vehicle yet.