Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Boulders and Rollercoasters

by Stephanie Black

I’m happy to report that my current writing project is going well. It’s exciting to watch a new novel taking shape. Right now I have about 46K—that’s about 164 pages of manuscript—which is probably more than half of my first draft. Whee!

Writing does not always come easily for me. I read about writers with so many ideas that they’ll never be able to write them all, or how they can barely type fast enough to keep up with the flood of words coming from their heads. I, um, don’t think that’s ever happened to me. Sometimes writing a novel is like pushing a huge boulder, though at least not uphill—I haven’t yet had something I’ve written roll backward and squash me. Then again, maybe that’s the rejection part of writing. You . . . get . . . (gasp) almost (pant). . . to . . . the . . . top (urgh!) . . . of the . . . hill . . . and then . . . aiyeee! (splat). I love this quote from Thomas Mann: “A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.” After it’s taken me twenty minutes to write an e-mail because I keep editing it, I can definitely agree with that.

But it’s not always the boulder. Sometimes, like with my current project, things really start to flow. The adrenaline pumps. The words pile up, scene after scene. I love it when that happens. It’s riding a rollercoaster, as opposed to boulder-pushing.

Prior to the publication of my first novel, writing involved a lot of rollercoasters. I did it purely because I loved it—it was an absolute blast. I scrambled for the computer every chance I got. But one thing I discovered post-pub is that to be successful, you need to keep new books coming—even if you can’t always find the rollercoaster. Sometimes you’re pushing the boulder, which is frustrating and difficult. I still struggle with staying focused. When I’m boulder-pushing, it’s easy for me to get distracted and waste time that I should spend writing.

But even when the boulder gets stuck in the mud, I can remind myself that I can do this—I’ve written novels before; I can do it again. Maybe I’m struggling with the current story, things aren’t flowing like I want, the plot is thin and boring, the villain is painfully obvious, and all my characters have spinach between their teeth and 80s hairdos, but it will come together.

Some days it's boulders. Some days it's rollercoasters. But either way, there's going to be a book at the end of the road.


At 3/04/2009 2:35 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I am so glad you are working on a third book because I absolutly loved the first two. Keep it up.

At 3/04/2009 4:58 PM, Blogger Nat Lud said...

I just barely read Fool Me Twice and i LOVED it! Great work.

At 3/04/2009 6:17 PM, Anonymous Emily M. said...

I just finished Fool Me Twice too, and I loved it also. The plotting was fabulous--I'm reminded of Margaret Maron--and I really liked the way that Megan's character arc developed. And thank you for not having her convert or get engaged by the end of the book. There are other books for those things to happen (are there? please?) in a natural, non-contrived way. Very, very nice.

At 3/04/2009 7:12 PM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

I can so relate to the third-book difficulties. Working on Trail of Storms was so hard that I took a year off, getting involved with a retail adventure, due, I know now, to A&P syndrome--Avoidance and Procrastination. That was truly the boulder thing.

LOL! I'm now in the rollercoaster stage: the book is in production!

At 3/05/2009 1:14 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Jennifer, Nat Lud, and Emily M--thank you so much! It really means a lot to me to hear that you enjoyed my work.

Marsha, congrats on Trail of Storms! Way to push those boulders :)


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