Hello, friends. I was absent again last week – not because I wasn’t thinking about you, but because I was speechless with frustration. Let me tell you why.
About two years ago, I wrote a little quiz called What Kind of Writer Are You? (It was originally for Teenreads.com, but you can also find it here.) It was purely for fun, not the kind of thing I spent long hours doing psycho-anthropological research on. I liked that it was silly. A play on the kind of Personality Type quiz I love and detest. It was written, posted, forgotten. And now it’s come back to haunt me.
Over the past few months, I’ve been struggling with what kind of writer I used to be, and what kind of writer I will be. I used to set out with a rough idea, fiddle around a bit, write a whole lot, scrap much of it, research some more, become inspired, and start the whole process again. That’s how A Spy in the House, The Body at the Tower, and The Traitor in the Tunnel were written. The process had some frustrations and many redundancies, but it worked, fundamentally.
And then I decided that it wasn’t good enough. For my fourth novel, Rivals in the City, I decided to tinker with the process: I was going to be a Planner. Oh yes. I was going to plot out the whole novel, figure out all my turning points, each small crisis, every transition, right up to the denouement. I even saved wee scraps of dialogue (mostly banter, my Achilles heel) I’d surely be able to plug into this orderly opus. And then, when everything was organized, I was going to sit down and crank this thing out. Sure, the writing itself would be less of an adventure. But it would be worth it, because I would be So. Very. Efficient.
You know what’s coming, don’t you? Last week, the whole thing crumbled. I found myself procrastinating, obsessively browsing Etsy for gifts still in the far future, reading blog after blog after blog – all because I didn’t want to write the book I’d so diligently mapped out. In fact, I’d impulsively written Mary into a scene in which she, too, was at an existential dead-end. Worse, I couldn’t figure out how to rescue her. (Here, you may – if you wish – insert a joke about art imitating life and/or vice versa. I would, but then I’d have to look myself in the mirror afterwards.)
I think, however, that I know how to rescue myself. And it involves – *werewolf howl of frustration* – jettisoning the Plan. I’m going back to my messy, inefficient, non-linear ways. And I’m going to write a book I love. Yes I am. I hope you’ll love it, too.
Happy writing and reading to you!
P.S. If you do take the quiz, let me know how you do! Ironically, it doesn’t work for me. Yes, I’m that inconsistent.