Monday, January 15, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

So I'm writing again.

After five graphic novels and three novels, you'd think I'd be prepared for all that a new book involves. And maybe I am, enough to blog about the process while I'm going through it, anyway.

Writing a book is an emotional rollercoaster. I know I'm in for at least a few long dark nights of the soul, and a moment or two where I ring the sweetest bell in the universe. I've done it often enough to know that the only real changes are the insecurities involved.

The good days, it's like being master of the universe. The bad, well, nobody likes the bad ones.

My first book (an out-of-print graphic novel called Leather Tales), I had to deal with can-I-even-finish-something-so-long. Then for a while, it was about refining the process. Then I turned to novels and had to face what-if-it's-only-my-drawing, what-if-my-writing's-no-good.

That first 'real' novel wasn't bad. Wasn't great, either, and the sad fact is that not bad isn't good enough for a new writer to break in. So in the drawer it went and back through the long ride I went with the second novel.

It was worse than the first. There were bits and pieces that sang, but that's a bit like Frankenstein pointing out the good job he did with the monster's ears. So in the drawer it went, and all through the third novel I had to wrestle with maybe-I'm-really-not-cut-out-for-this.

Well, that one was good. At least, I thought so. My brand new agent, Anne Hawkins at JHA Literary, thinks so too. I'll let you know how things go with that one on this blog too.

So here I am, back in the saddle again, this time with what-is-that-one-was-a-one-off.

My most effective technique for beating down those insecurities is something I call 'maybe, come back later.'

For instance, back in the beginning when I worried about even finishing the first book, I'd tell those worrying voices, "Maybe you're right, but I'm doing this page now. Come back later." When I was doing my first novel and worrying that I was an art guy getting ahead of himself I'd say, "Maybe, but if nothing else this'll be a good script for another graphic novel."

Now when I'm tempted to waste time worrying about making lightning strike twice I say, "Maybe this one won't be up to snuff, but in that case I'll write another one."

One advantage of experience is knowing that I'll look back on the finished work and have no idea which days were good ones, and which bad.

And the more I do, the better I'll get.


Charles Gramlich said...

It'll be interesting to see your take on writing a novel after you've been through the process a couple of times. I'm doing some preliminary plotting on a potential novel right now, but I have to meet a few deadlines on other items first before I can let myself be seduced by it. Btw, I used some of your comments on Sherlock Holmes as seeds for part of my next column on characters. Thanks for the input.