22 June 2011

It's Manifesto Wednesday!

I want to write strong novels that are exciting and fun and sell a million copies. Just like everybody else in the world. Scary thought, ain’t it? Not to mention that it will never happen.

Then I thought, Remember back when I was a kid? I wrote because it was exciting and I loved to make things happen. I loved writing just as fast as Emily the raccoon ran as she fled the coon hounds, my pencil barely keeping up with her flight. I was a kid who wrote adventure because she WANTED adventure. In my stories, I ran like crazy everywhere I went. It was great.

Then I read So You Want to Be a Wizard when I was in junior high. Holy crap. This exciting, complex world of magic captivated me. The dark world that Nita and Kit fell into was this incredible intense place that they had to fight their way through. Talking stars and predator sports cars and everybody running like hell all the time. I’ve been reading it again and it’s still crazy awesome great.

I want to write stuff that calls up this same quivery excitement I had back then.

The nice thing is that I’ve been writing in earnest since 1995, so I have this huge warehouse full of experience, plus years of writing stories and articles and beating deadlines. I’ve written 50 million novels, resulting in four finished, salable novels. Since I started at Hamline, I’ve been accelerating, becoming more wily, learning more tricks of the trade.

The problem for me … is trust. Even with my skill, I don’t trust myself to succeed. Why? Because that bossy old-woman brain of mine keeps barging in and saying, Don’t do it like that, this is wrong, this is boring, this’ll never work. You’ll never write strong novels that are exciting and fun and sell a million copies.

Let’s quash that voice. I’m going to start a new partnership, right now. Where’s that kid I once was? Get her in here. Kid, I have a crazy idea for you. You write the stories with me. Give me stuff you’re crazy about, stuff that you’ve always wanted to do. Put it in a story. Make sure there’s lots of running and drama and maybe a few explosions. Mix in some scary stuff. Then you and I will pitch in together and fix those puppies up. You and me, we’ll make these stories the coolest dang thing that anybody’s ever seen.

The way to win is to not be boring.

The way to not be boring is to have a ton of fun.

Not so much fun that the neighbors call the cops, but you know what I mean.

So let’s do it.

06 June 2011

Starting a new story!

Sometimes when you go walking in the woods, you're ducking under pawpaw trees and dodging gooseberry tangles, which is normal, but then you came to a big fallen limb all overgrown in a thorny tangle and it's blocking your way. So you have to backtrack, or go off to the side until you find a way around it, and then you move forward again. And then you come to a place where the hill is too steep and you don't want to slide down the thing on your butt, so you backtrack and go off to the side until you find a way to go forward again.

That's what writing the beginning of this new story is like. I write for a little bit, but then I come to a halt and the story is just not going anywhere, okay, so what would happen if I backed up a few paragraphs and changed this? And then I go forward a little way, and then errk! Stop! This is not working. And then I'm like, well, instead of Eyestar standing next to the door fighting the grasshopper army, why not have the main character there instead? So I back up and rewrite that bit, and it is cool, and then I'm going forward again.

And just like walking in the woods, I know the direction I'm going, but I don't know what I'm going to see along the way so I keep my eyes open for birds and mushrooms and animal tracks and wildflowers and look for surprises. And despite the little trailblocks, or the occasional tick crawling up the inside of my jeans DIE EVIL TICK, I know I'm going to have fun while I'm out and about.

Aren't you supposed to be working?

I'm still on the internet after an hour of looking around at websites and basically screwing around. I'm getting ready to write a whole new story and I hate jumping in.

It's like when I was at the pool yesterday with the kid and her buddy. I'd stand on the edge of the pool, hot, wanting to jump in, but hating the shock of the cold water, so I would stand around for about five minutes, watching people, until I got out of my own way enough to hold my nose and just step in.

So much fuss over something so easy. And yet I'd do it every time.

As I am now.

All the same, I hate wasting my own time. I think about President Truman working those 18-hour days in the early days of his Presidency, and what am I doing here but screwing around because I'm scared to start. "Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction," as Truman used to say.

So let's do it.