Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Novel Idea

"You should write a novel."
I heard those words too many times last summer. My response never changed. It was an emphatic, "No!" I had recently started my blog. Week after week I regaled readers with tales of The Idiot Who Made Me Cry, Satan's Henchman, Chesty LaRue, and my personal musings on the perfect way to stalk a man, music video chicks, and Broke Ass Niggas. Writing a 1000 word essay two to three days a week was one thing, but a novel was a completely different beast. A beast I had no inclination to tame. Constructing characters, conflicts, plot twists, a climax, and more would require large amounts of effort. Effort has never agreed with me. The writing bug had definitely bit, but I was determined to be a columnist, not a novelist. I was thinking Carrie Bradshaw, not Charlotte Bronte.

In late August the itch to find a new career blossomed into an all out obsession. I took one of my cousins up on an offer to help with my resume. Immediately, we hit a snag when I had no idea what my new career objective should be. In wading through my interests, I brought up my renewed love of writing. In order to give him an idea of the type of writing I wanted to do in my next career incarnation, I sent my cousin the link to my blog. Several weeks later, we met in my grandmother's living room to discuss job objectives, qualifications, work history, and skills. However, before that process could begin my cousin had something to tell me.
"You have to write a novel," he commanded.
Just like every other time the suggestion had been made, I begged off, informing him that I don't do novel writing. Unfortunately for me, my cousin is pitbull. Once he latches onto something he won't let it go.
"Look, I'll give you the plot, you just have to write it," he assured me.
Hmmm, that would be one step out of the way. He kept talking, I listened. Maybe it was his enthusiasm, maybe it was peer pressure, maybe it was sheer madness, but suddenly crafting a novel didn't sound as daunting as it once did. That afternoon, I agreed to give it a shot.

I arrived back in Michigan motivated to write the first chapter. It took me a week and the moment I was done I emailed copies to my cousin, Chesty LaRue, Jailbait, and others. I needed feedback. How was the storytelling? Did the characters have life? Was it enough to make them keep reading? The response was overwhelmingly positive. I wrote Chapter 2 the next week and sent it off to them as well. They liked it, they really liked it.

Something in me clicked and the story and characters took on lives of their own inside my head. Even when I was nowhere near a computer I was writing. Between September and February I cranked out nine chapters in over 150 pages. In those sheets of paper, a woman named Renee came to life. Her issues with family, friends, career, and love played out before my eyes. Then one day in late February, her life stopped, not because there was nothing to tell, but because I had no idea how I wanted to tell it. I didn't know how the rest should sound, and at this moment I still don't.

In the last three months, I've thought about Renee, her family, friends, and men over and over again. But I can't seem to reach out and touch them, make them come alive again. The motivation that fueled me in the beginning is gone and the fumes haven't been enough to get me going again. I refuse to give up on telling the rest of this saga. I feel like I owe it to the people who have been reading along since Chapter 1. I owe it to my characters. But most of all, I owe it to myself.

34 comments:

tilda said...

Oh wow, now to get it published??

GOOD LUCK!!

XO

tribalpoetry said...

wish you luck
let your dream work
hug and prayers from the African soul to u
urdeen
nigeria

jailbait said...

Um, WRONG, you owe it to ME, specifically.

chris said...

Nice Post. Your motivation will come back. If God has given you the talent to write, it can't be taken away from you. Just keep on pressing on...as they use to say back in the day.

Lynn said...

Writer's block sucks. On a professional level, though, do you think it's a good idea to be telling the world about your project? Or sending it to anyone who e-mails you about it?? I just sat in a room full of freelance writers last night and the competition is so fierce. I would be very careful about tipping people you don't know off to anything you are doing. Sorry to be shrewd, but that is as important or maybe more important in publishing than the actual written word. Good luck to you my dear--I am sure it's a great project and one that will serve you well in the future. XX

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I'm getting a writing bug too. But like you, I'm more of a columnist type of guy. A novel would be different.

princessdominique said...

I feel you on losing it. I'm working on novel # something or the other and was stuck. I got mad at something or a situation and it jumpstarted my creativity. I'm currently in six chapters deep. Yours will come back too.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I can tell you this, Liz. You need to look the the book in a Zen-like manner. My problems are the real-life distractions, my other writing assignments. But when I get back to CITY WITH NO SECOND CHANCES, I am into Frank St. Cyr's world immediately. The sounds, smells, temperature. Learn to submerge yourself as often as you can and working on the novel will be that much easier.

naive-no-more said...

You'll find your groove again, don't worry.

I'm near Grand Rapids too!

with sprinkles said...

Hurry up and finish it, so I can buy it!

i like liquor and tv said...

Smoke some weed! That'll get the creative juices flowing again. j/k

But I feel ya (even though I'm not a writer)...since you lost your motivation, you don't want to force yourself to write. Hopefully someone on your job will do something really stupid, and you'll get that motivation back.

Dirk the Feeble said...

I cannot BELIEVE that you compared Charlotte Bronte with that slut from Sex and the City.

goodness gracious! said...

good luck with your novel!

one thing my freind is doing, that also works for me on shorter projects, is to just write whatever part of the story you feel like. as long as you have a plotline, there's not rule that says you have to write from the begining of your story and finish up at the end. i'd say, think about al the vents that happen in the book, and all the carachters, and if any thing pops out at you, even if it's something that happens at the end, go for it!

Trish said...

Don't give up. Finish it. I'm writing a novel, too. I know it feels endless, but you have something to say.

Jodi said...

perhaps the people that first gave the ideas need to give you some direction where to go, and renee will come back to life? just a thought since they got you in this "mess" as it were...

~Deb said...

Sometimes we get writer’s block and we can’t recreate what we once invented. However---it’s ‘still there’ waiting for you to finish the story; to elaborate on all the interesting aspects of each character and their dramatic lives.

When I wrote my second book, I sat on the deck of my beach house staring into the ocean on vacation. I woke up extra early, brewed a strong cup of coffee and headed out on my deck overlooking the sea with my laptop. Words started flowing out like anything.

You need inspiration, whether it be taking some much needed time off, or just getting yourself in an atmosphere of inspiring people places or things.

Good luck!

Chesty Larue aka rebelioness said...

I can't believe Dirk called Carrie a slut!!! Scratch your face! =P

Anyway, I like what goodness gracious had to say. I mean, you shared your vision with me so obviously it's not that you don't know where to go but, rather, you don't know how to get there. I don't believe in forcing oneself to do anything, which is probably why I got kicked out of Cornell after my first year. Still, I think if you write out of sheer obligation, it won't come out as good. What's the rush anyway? Take all the time you need. Meditate. Pray. Start writing another book, even. When your motivation returns, you won't have to cajole yourself into wanting to finish because you'll just want to.

Solomon said...

Somebody told me incense and mood lighting. Now its all dark and my room smells like a cranberry forest and lilac. I don't suggest that.

Maybe some good feed back could spark something.

Cece said...

I can't wait to read your book... and its like Chesty said the inspiration will come back, there's no rush.
Please promise me you won't name it like some of the black books we see today i.e. Hoodrats and the Gangstas that love them. ;-) Just Sayin'

Serena said...

Regardless of being stuck, you'll pull through. Even undertaking something like that is huge!

Carla said...

Like everyone else has said, just take your time and I'm sure the words will come to you when the time is right. You have a good number of followers who will be first in line no matter when the book is released.

Tense Teacher said...

Found you through the Cranky Prof, and I love your blog; you have an easy-to-read, comfortable writing style, and I have no doubt that you'll find the right words soon to finish your novel.

FLS said...

Wait for it to come. I KNOW you KNOW about waiting.

But I'm with I like liquor and tv

Smoke some good.

citygirl said...

I completely understand. Try reading it to see if it gives you any ideas for continuing. If that doesn't work, just sit down and write about the story and what you were hoping when you first got into the plot and characters. It could help.

Anonymous said...

Lizard! I need the rest of Renee's life, I'm already involved and too visual to just forget about it. You have a few options on how to continue with her story anyway, just take your time and it will come to you.

Sober In the City said...

Liz:

Sometimes, when it comes to things you really care about, you can get so wrapped up in them that you need a little break. Some distance.

That's okay.

When you decide you are ready, you will have new eyes.

I've found that when I hit this spot, signing up for a writing class or joining a writers workshop will give me back my motivation. Just a thought.

And you should write a novel. Your story is inspiring to me as we have so much in common. So I kinda feel like if you can do this, then maybe I can too...

NegroPino™ said...

I would def cop that..I like your writing style...

2undeh said...

Don't worry. Your inspiration will come back. Keep at it. And don't give up.

Elizabeth said...

I used to be terrified of heights. Until I became a rock climber. And learned that you can get to the top of a mountain by climbing one baby step at a time no matter your mental state.

Maybe that's how you finish a novel, even when you get writer's block - one baby step at a time.

Airhead said...

Well, when all else fails, sex sells. However, assuming this is a fabulous work of literature (and I'm sure it is) as opposed to a Harlequin novel, sex scenes a la Tolsoy (NB: read Anna Karenina for an example) would be appropriate. Just an idea :-)

Buffy said...

You should write a novel.

:)

Buffy said...

Ok....reading this again. You are SOOO Me.

Listen, the only thing stopping us from writing...is us.

If you want it bad enough...You'll do it. Its just that simple.

This is what I tell myself. And this is what I tell you.

Andrea said...

I'm writing four novels at one time. I write what I feel or better yet, dreamt about the previous night.

You can not tense up! Have you tried yoga?

I would look at the reason you're tense at the moment. Is it becasue it's an unusually tense moment? Is it because you haven't explored the character enough? Stop, take a moment and think about it. Exhale and write.

Leah said...

I feel you as more Carrie than Charlotte too. The best thing about what you write here is the truth of it; I don't know if it would be so strong retold as fiction.

That said, if you write it, I will buy it.