Sunday, September 21, 2008

Second Act Insanity

Something I've noticed: the middle of every novel drives me insane.

Driving hard, never stopping, it's no wonder some of the more tender gears start to slip.

My first novel, large quantities of beer in the sun played a major part. At the time, I chalked up those crazy couple months to the effects of beer, and sun. My second, I got through that Scary, Saggy Middle in a deep and wistful melancholy. I blamed it on the winter, the poverty of those days, the cold and the lack of light.

Those novels seemed important at the time, but really, they were practice. By #3, when I gave away my car (in favor of my mountain bike) and reconnected with (and horribly, hopelessly alienated) several old friends from college now living Out East, I started to notice a pattern.

The recently finished #4 was one hell of a long hard slog. Long enough, and hard enough, that I went crazy twice: I found myself compelled to shave with straight razors, and later, to write with a dip pen.

Insane. Bloody insane.

So as I cruise past my Enormous and Stakes-Changing Center of my latest, I've kept a chary eye peeled. At 40,000 words, the worst I'd seen was that I reconnected with the Southern side of my heritage by making iced tea again: probably the first pitcher I've made in twelve or thirteen years. My cute wee Kiwi thinks the idea of cold tea is a crime against nature, but she eats whitebait.

I thought maybe this time, I had a pass.

No such luck. :-)

Turns out the owner of my tattoo shop is getting itchy feet. He's opening a new place across town, and I'm taking over the current place. So now my life is a flurry of equipment purchases, jewelry wholesalers, retail stock and the hiring and training of new staff. Exciting, yes. Exciting and something else.

Insane, that's the word. Bloody insane.

Day 43, the Full Throttle Daily Wordcount-O-Meter stands at 47,100.

Some things never change.


Charles Gramlich said...

Good luck with the business. That would be scary enough to drive me insane, not to mention the novel. Good luck on both, of course.

Lisa said...

If you were to serve me a whitebait fritter, I probably wouldn't bat an eyelash and I might like it -- but you showed me the raw whitebait, and -- blech!!!

Awesome progress on the novel! I think it's okay to go a little insane, as long as you always find your way back :)

Hang in there!

Unknown said...

Good luck on the new venture......insanity is part of the writer's job description...think of all the personalities we take on as we write.....we 'do' things our sane non-writing self would never do -so just embrace your insanity and courage (to write and run a new business) and keep writing :-)

Steve Malley said...

Charles, it's been awhile since I had my own place, but I do look forward to the new challenge.

Lisa, whitebait fritters freaking ROCK! They really do. If you can ignore their wee little faces...

Liz, you may have something there!

cs harris said...

I can not BELIEVE how you plow through your first drafts. I usually go insane at about page 100, but then, I'm a slower writer. Maybe it's a time thing.

Good luck with the business. It all sounds very scary to me.

Lana Gramlich said...

Good luck with the current transitions in your life! (Love the "subtlety" poster, btw. Cracked me up right in the middle of my library!)
Besides...sanity is vastly overrated!

SQT said...

I agree with those who can't believe you are doing the job and the novel. I only have an attention span for one thing at a time.

Steve Malley said...

CS, I actually think I have you to thank for my latest progress: despite my long defense of writing by the seat of my pants, I'm working with an outline this time, and it's *much* easier!

And to me, working for someone else is scary. After all, you can't fire yourself! :-)

Lana, I'll take my gentle barmy ways over the mad dreams of certain world leaders any day...

SQT, it's all about the size of the rocks and how much room each needs.

Barbara Martin said...

Changes are good for a person, and this new big step will work out well for you.

For the middle of a story you should put in a major conflict (at least that's what I've been told) which sets back the protagonist and he/she has to work harder than ever to get out of it. For mine I have a series of conflicts which up the ante as the characters proceed.

Goodl luck in both, and you will be just fine.

Barrie said...

I popped over from one of the My town Monday posts. Ah...the dreaded middle. Do you plot much ahead of time. I swear that's the only thing that saves me. Good luck with your new business.

Miladysa said...

Drinking cold tea IS a crime against nature!!!

Good luck with both ventures :-D

Riss said...

Dude. Rock on. There's that Full Throttle I've been waiting for. Taking over your own tattoo shop would be completely kick ass. And, so long as you get everything into a cohesive "big picture" you can totally take boss breaks and write. (c: Maybe only for 20 minutes but whatever. So, enjoy it. I'm still trying to figure out what tattoo I should

Steve Malley said...

Barbara, that's one good and popular way to handle the middle. Recently, I posted on a few other ways as well.

Barrie, this time I'm plotting ahead. I have a big master-thing, and I outline the chapters a day or two before I write em. In the past, I've flown entirely by the seat of my pants.

Miladysa, black pudding and blood sausage, THOSE are crimes against nature... :-)

Riss, I'm looking forward to it, though I do know I'll miss my hours of endless leisure!

Shauna Roberts said...

Good luck with both the business and the book. What stamina you must have!

Miladysa said...


Glamourpuss said...

So in the middle of writing a novel, you felt compelled to open a tattoo parlour? Hmmm, that sounds like something someone in my condition would do ;-)


Steve Malley said...

Miladysa, happy to amuse!

Puss, more like in the middle of writing a novel, the owner of the place I've worked for six years decides *he* wants out. Once I've got this changeover stuff sorted, I'll be doing the same old stuff in the same old place, just a little more often.

Meantime, yeah, I'm busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest!

Synchronicity said...

I wonder what I could write with some access to some beer and some sun.

AvDB said...

Contgrats on the shop! Someday I'll make a journey to get ink from pretty much the only ex-patriot I know.

I think the middle of the last book was when I started eating frozen peas. I guess that's the point that tests a writer's mettle--find some bizarre outlet for your frustration or go batshit and never finish.

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