Tuesday, June 06, 2006

On Milestones, and Irony

It wasn't long ago I was working hard to cut 300 words a day from #1 Novel, STARVING HYSTERICAL NAKED. My agent, an excellent editor, challenged me to remove 10,000+ words from that sprawling opus, and he was dead right.

So what the hell am I doing pushing to write 300 new words (and more) a day on #2 Novel, ALMA? I love irony. I'm happy to report I crossed the 10K milestone last week, and momentum is good. Diving into chapter four. And this is the fun part, even if I'll end up cutting it all. Full speed ahead, even as I cram it into coffee breaks and subway rides.

And what's the new novel about? Should I share, or will that jinx it? Aw hell, why not. An actress/preacher's daughter from a huge interracial family embarks on a new scene study class, and is assigned to explore the preacher's daughter of preacher's daughters, Tennessee Williams' recurring character Alma. Alma = soul. What is the soul, exactly? Especially to us lapsed Christians? I'm dying to figure this out.

But she's not even in the acting class yet. I'm caught up in backstory now, meaning it could be the book or it could be my homework for the book. I may end up cutting all of it, but it's stuff I need to know. About the character, the only one not adopted in her liberal family, and about how the six siblings relate to each other as adults. Adult siblings are a goldmine/minefield of material! Why haven't I played with it until now? Where have I been? I have a rudimentary outline, but I'm not looking at it. I'm just letting the character tell it her own way, which is a big meander. She thinks in circles, same as me.

I'm getting a new appreciation of backstory. What if backstory was the story? Why do we relegate it to the back? What if I called it nonlinear storytelling instead? What is wrong with chaotic reflection? So I'm plunging into the joy of memory, mixing my own experiences with imagined ones. We writers live for this shit.

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