Now that my next novel, “Finding Gessler” is with my editor, I’ve returned to my rough draft of a novel that has been giving me fits since I first put fingers to the keyboard. When I read what I had written, I found myself trashing most of the prose. At this rate, if this book ever gets published, it will be a miracle. Sometimes I can’t believe I write such crap!
It’s times like these I must remind myself that writing is a process. It’s one draft after another, then a rewrite, then another rewrite before I turn it over to my editor, then there’s a proofreading session and then another. It’s almost as if the 70,000 words will never be committed to paper. When my students complain when I ask them to rewrite something, I share with them what I go through to get a a book “out there.” Of course, they think I’m nuts. Perhaps they’re right.
I’ve come to the conclusion we have to be a little nuts to be writers. We have to be a keen observers, thinkers with vivid imaginations who are also pretty good at putting ideas down on paper with grammatical correctness. Yeah. We’re all nuts to put ourselves through this.
Why do we do it? For some it’s ego, for others it’s a need to be heard, and for others its a love of alone time to think. For me, it’s because my characters have insisted I write their stories. They prod and poke at me until I listen and let them take over. Like I told you, I’m nuts.
Most of my characters are pretty outstanding people. They have their flaws, the strengths and weakness, but on the whole they are decent people. But Stephania–she’s a problem. She wants to be strong, but doesn’t have a clue how to be such other than being a bitch. She wants wealth and power, which is totally unbecoming for a woman of her time. She sees manipulation as a good tool to get what she wants, instead of using her high intelligence. The bottom line is, I don’t like her much.
But there are reasons why Stephania has taken this road, and it’s my job to make readers understand why she is the way she is. I must make them empathize with her, while at the same time have a distinct disapproval of her tactics. It’s a hard job to hone her into a sympathetic character so everyone will be interested in what she does next.
Maybe I’ve bit off more than I can chew with this one, but I know if I totally stop listening to her, she will have her revenge. It’s in her DNA.