The royal blue three-ring binder taunts me from its secure spot on the bookshelf. Eighty-one completed pages of “Anne” with additional pages of notes, outlines, and prose tucked here and there. Hidden underneath are two manila folders. One holds “It Takes A Village Store,” 50,065 words of my 2014 NaNoWriMo submission. “Full Circle,” my 2015 submission, 50,212 words total, is ensconced in the other. The main characters of each novel are strong women from the same family, a mother, daughter, and niece/cousin. The setting is the same town for all three novels.
Originally I intended to have the novels comprise a trilogy but now I am reconsidering that. I feel that it makes more sense to combine them into one novel. How did I reach that conclusion? Good question. One issue is that none of the three are long enough in their current state to be a complete novel. Another problem is that they are extensions of each other, their plots and characters interwoven as only a family can be. I could solve the problems by expanding each of them, differentiating the plots so that they stand alone yet remain connected. Or I could stick with my decision to produce a single novel. Flip a coin?
I have looked for novels with more than one main character, and diverse points of view (obviously), for inspiration. I am surprised that the last three random books I’ve read meet those criteria. (“The Valley of Amazement” by Amy Tan; “the speed of light” by Elizabeth Rosner; “Life After Life” by Jill McCorkle.) Each one has taken a different approach, probably none of which will work for me.
A long time ago I heard that first-time authors should stick to a straightforward, one main character, one point of view, story. I can see the wisdom in that advice. Yet I’m in a situation where that won’t work. Unless I write three separate novels. Can you hear my teeth gnashing?
No wonder the binder and the two folders that took up valuable space in my suitcase—at least two pairs of shorts worth–have sat untouched on the bookshelf for two months. (Of course, they also are on my laptop but a hard copy is easier to edit. You’ve got to pick it up to do that.)
My only writing goal for this winter in Arizona was to work on this project. Instead, I have devoted my writing time to my short story, “He’s All She Has” (originally titled “The Intruder”). The last revision of this story garnered the suggestion from John, our facilitator, that I put it aside and move onto something else. And I thought it was one revision away from being completed…I’ll try to put a positive spin on it–guess I’ll have time to work on my novel(s)!
This will be short as the deadline for NaNoWriMo is just three days away. I have attained 42,829 out of 50,000 words with three days without commitments remaining so I predict that I will “win” NaNoWriMo. Yippee!! I am ready for 12:01 a.m. on December 1 to arrive so that I can stop writing “Full Circle” what feels like every free minute of every day.
Of course, I exaggerate. I have taken some extended breaks during the month and I’ve enjoyed every moment of them, especially my vacation to the Cancun area. I only wrote one time out of the five days we were gone but that one time was quite satisfying. I even hit my word count on Thanksgiving day–and I hosted the holiday dinner after returning from my trip at eleven the night before.
What I’ve learned from all of this is that I am able to write regardless of the circumstances. I don’t need the perfect chair (I wrote on the airplane) or to be in the mood to write. I can even write while indulging in (gulp) Hallmark holiday movies. Wish I could say that they didn’t have an influence on what I wrote, though love stories and happy endings aren’t all that bad. Maybe my next novel will take place in a castle…
Another lesson has been that it isn’t that hard to whip out a lot of words if I’m prepared to also whip out a lot of revising. In the future. Revising that I’m actually looking forward to doing. Not lying.