where the writers are
The Writing Day

I've taken a pause in the writing day. It's been another excellent day for writing. Having a great time.

But I've been working on short stories, editing and revising "Sister, Sister" while writing a new short story, "Ghosts of Ashland."  I'd rather be writing novels right now. This is a compromise for my creative outlay. I've found you must live more with a novel. It takes deeper investigation and quantifying.  There are more paths to explore. Some are dead ends and  I have to turn around and go back. Other paths lead to other stories...decisions are required about the novel's focus, the story being told. 

I have a hard time saying no to myself and these other paths.  I love going back and forth through characters' lives and events, trying to understand them and their actions, and how they've come to be who they are and how, why they act as they do.  Yet, all of this is not always fully shared in the novel;  not overtly.  But it's part of the larger logical and emotional backing necessary to hold the novel together. An internal logic and pattern must be established and followed, even if that logic is absurd and chaotic.

In fact, I love chaos in a novel. I enjoy how we, as humans, believe and accept the premise that we can foresee and control so much, how much we fool ourselves, how we con ourselves. How often do our plans and predictions come true? 

I use myself as an example.  Never planned to write.  It beckoned me. Never planned to have a military career, never planned another career afterwards - hell, never planned much of anything. Yet, here I sit, a prisoner of my lack of planning; but that lack of planning is part of myself and my complexities and simplicity. 

There's a lot of joy in trying to understand that in myself and in others, and in life and fiction. I like reading because good writing prompts me to think, or tilt my head and look at matters from a new angle. I enjoy writing because trying to write well prompts those same efforts to tilt my head and regard matters with a different perspective. And then I hope to uncover thoughts and insights I'd not realized before, and present it to others. 

The cats and wife are sleeping. It's just after 11 PM. I'm alone in my office with my computer and my thoughts. Writer's butt hasn't kicked in.

This is how I see myself as a writer, alone with my keyboard, thinking and typing, writing, letting words and scenes come together and out. 

Funny, but now I need to turn to the novel. In deciding to expand the setting and slow things down, I discovered a story gap that I needed to address. I've been thinking about it and a solution has come to me. I know what to write and where to write it. 

As a side observation, this novel was written back when I attended a writer's conference. Critique for some of my fiction (not this specific one) was that I needed to slow down, expand some of the scenes. I didn't fully understand or agree back then. But now I can see that compelling and fast-paced and breathless aren't all the same or exclusive. You can expand scenes and still remain compelling without being breathless and fast-paced. A compelling story is created as much by what's shared by what isn't shared.

That doesn't mean I've cracked the code. As better writers have said and written, we're all always trying to master the craft. 

Now, break over. The writing day continues.