Monday, November 3, 2008

Can writing be procrastinatory?

This time last year, I was writing my first non-mystery novel. I worked on it all winter with my Humber mentor, David Bergen, who patiently explained to me what didn't work and why, but I was never able to resolve the problems. In Wayson Choy's summercamp workshop, I worked only on the first chapter. I left with a very clear instructions to fix its problems, and I did fix them, in part by adding a new character for one scene only. Then I brought it to my most excellent critique group... who saw all the same problems as before, but loved that one character.

I am thinking about two things now: the writer who said character takes priority over story, and Joseph Boyden's comment, in the interview at the back of Three Day Road, that the novel didn't work until he reshaped it with a circular, rather than linear, approach.

I was going to rake leaves today. Then I came to my senses and decided to work on my horror story, due in a few weeks for a contest. But while I was hauling leaf bag monsters off the lawn in the dark in teeming rain (don't ask) a solution to the first chapter of that old novel came to me. So I'm going to try that instead. And I'm NOT going to eat Halloween candy while I do it, because I'm strong and not because it's finally gone, though that also is true.

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