It seems like I write these types of posts far too often. However, this will be the last time. I promise.
I have started writing my novel again. This will be my sixth attempt to get the story out of my mind and onto the page. As always, I am starting from page one, only borrowing from previous drafts when I feel it appropriate. I’ve discovered that if I cannibalize too much, I find myself trying to shove and shoehorn things into the manuscript that don’t really belong, mostly because I just like the way it sounds, or because I feel like it is just good writing that needs to be in there.
It’s a difficult thing for me to do — letting go of something I am proud of. I don’t really want to think of all the words and phrases I’ve lost from previous incarnations of this story. If I look back on them now, I am afraid I will just try to work them back in, stifling the creativity that is driving this incarnation of the story. That is what happened with my 60-day manuscript project — I lifted an entire chapter from a previous draft, rather than just writing it fresh. Unfortunately, the drive to create left me within days of recycling that chapter, and the project failed.
However, I really am excited about this version of the manuscript. I am writing it in a completely different way. I have never read a book that is structured the way this one will be. I have read novels that used a similar method, but never something quite like this.
I’ve mentioned before that I feel I am more of a short story writer than a novelist. I’ve also spoken of my desire to break this novel into a series of interconnected short stories rather than one long-form novel. And that’s exactly what I have done. The main story is comprised of three parts, with six shorter stories dispersed throughout the novel to fill in the gaps and expand the story. I know that this type of thing has been done before — and many times at that — but I feel like I am doing it differently.
This time, it is about so much more than just the story. With the way I am writing this, I am viewing it as a celebration of language as well. Words are powerful. Word choice is meaningful. I want to explore every possible avenue. I want to use words to manipulate emotion in a way I have never really read before. Furthermore, I want the reader to know that they are being manipulated, but continue reading anyway. Once you meet my narrator (first mentioned in this post), you will understand why this is so important.
I am also excited because I am playing with a lot of literary conventions. Things that a lot of readers don’t typically notice — like tense changes and perspective changes — have meaning within the story itself. If it pans out the way I hope it will, it will be as much a showcase of what can be done with words and language as it is a story. This novel isn’t just a sandbox — it’s practically a writer’s playground.
I’m glad I’m the one who gets to play on it.