The Girl Who Couldn’t Commit

That would be me. It seems that lately I have a hard time settling down to work on one thing. I’ve started too many things and they all demand to be finished. Whenever I think I know what I truly want to work on, I casually glance at something while looking for a scribbled note or character sketch, and before I know it I’ve been sucked in to something different. I’ve started too many good things to focus on just one.

I suppose this should be a good problem to have. If I had a bit more focus lately, it would be. I’m guaranteed several good books, after all. It’s just deciding which good book to write NOW that’s giving me the blues.

I already know what your advice will be. “Write what you’re most passionate about right now.” Well, at the moment, I’m most passionate about researching the Marriage Kit book. I’m loving conducting the interviews and trying to figure out what to read to flesh this out. I’m even loving exploring my own feelings about the interviews and articles and bits of advice. What I’m not loving? Transcribing the interviews! I’m so far behind on actually typing up (and posting) all of the interviews that I’ve conducted, I don’t know when I’ll catch up again.

But then, I had a breakthrough on the Some College memoir. I was right; going home made all the difference (mostly because I came across a few more of my journals that fleshed out more of what I was thinking leading up to and during the first few months of that time. I definitely want to include parts of those entries in the memoir. I’ve also broken down the structure into three parts, quite a few chapters. I know where I’m going with it. Now I just have to write it.

I actually have quite a few chick lit/ harlequin type books floating out there. At one point I was all about the love. There’s the class reunion WIP you all are familiar with (my NaNoWriMo novel from last year), there’s one I found a chapter of on Openfiction.com (which I can link if you want me to) and three additional chapters at home,  there’s the one I spoke about yesterday, and at least one other with a really big “this isn’t what it looks like,” moment.

Also while I was home, I found the beginning (but not the whole written portion) of a story about a mystery writer that I started on the large lined paper with the big blank space at the top that they give you when you’re just learning to write (don’t worry; it’s evolved since then, lol) which shows promise, as well as a YA novel about a teen girl who is kidnapped by her best friend’s killer (and ex-boyfriend), who has connections to the mob. I was about fifteen–no, seventeen?– (short at first, then long) chapters in. I lost the first 12 (they were stolen), but had recreated three or more of them (I started this in eighth grade!).

These are just the ones with the most upfront potential that I’ve found. I also found two more YA type of fiction pieces that are pretty lengthy. The only thing is, I haven’t written YA type of works since I used to read YA books…when I was a YA. Still, these books have something…

Of course, of course, there are the WIPs you all are familiar with: the jazz story, the southern gothic novel, Candy Apples and the other short stories in that collection. Everything with the potential to be epic and the pull to get me to reread it and want to write more of it. What to do, what to do? Some of these stories have been with me for years and refuse to leave me alone.  

Aside from these dilemmas, I’m also supposed to be working on a dissertation (editing, not writing). Oh, boy.

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I promise that my next entries will be more than just me lamenting my good fortune. I am thinking of adding a couple of tabs, one where I help you keep track of the eighty million WIPs I have going on, and one where I make some concrete goals for the rest of the year. Maybe if I commit to it on paper? I’m thinking some NaNoWriMo-esque months are called for here.

Speaking of discoveries, I finally got a cassette player! I can play it through my little boombox, so that’s nice. I’m working towards being able to convert cassettes to digital (read: saving up to buy the software). I’m so excited about this, as I have one of my stepdad’s original recordings that I want to add to my collection. As my stepdad passed away in 2009, you can imagine how dear of a project this is to me. There are a few other things I’d like to convert as well, but this is the most important.

Now, time to brag: tell me about some of your recent successes. It can be anything. Also, tell me your plans for writing world/publishing world domination!

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Perspective

Invisible Man

Image via Wikipedia

I had a lot of trouble choosing the Point of View (POV) and the narration of my NaNoWriMo book. There’s a simple reason for this: I like one style of narration a lot, but it wasn’t the best choice for the story.

I love first person narratives in novels. Some of my favorite novels, works like Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, are told in first person. The intimacy, having unrestricted access to the interior life of the main character, feeling as if you are in that person’s skin, watching everything unfold and feeling every emotion–it’s a wonderful feeling of connection between reader and the character(s).

The only problem is all first person narration is somewhat unreliable. People never remember things exactly as they happened. There are emotions, prejudices, preferences and past experiences clouding everything that happens to them. This is very useful in some stories, this narrow perspective. For example, in The Secret History, it allows for mystery to build and for the reader to discover the true horror behind the crime as the narrator does in a way that keeps it fresh. His not knowing everything is useful to us. His shame and guilt allows him to speak freely, as he’s trying to get the weight of it off of his chest. But what about when the reverse is happening?

 I’ve already told you my main character is a compulsive liar. She is completely untrustworthy at the beginning of the book. She can’t help twisting things to her advantage. I can’t leave the story in her hands. I couldn’t choose a different first person to narrate, because it’s her story, and no one was close enough to get inside her head. So third person it is, right?

Now here’s the hard part. If I make it third person omniscient, I can get into a few people’s heads and swing the point of view a bit when I need to. But if it’s omniscient, it’s not as personal and connected to the story. What to do?

I started writing and let the writing take its course. I haven’t given too many characters interior thoughts or feelings besides the main character’s, and it will be easy to go back and use strong verbs and facial expressions to convey the other character’s interior thoughts…mostly.

How did/do you solve POV and narration dilemmas in your writing? Have you had to change POVs after beginning a story? How do you decide which narrative voice to use?

P.S.: I’ve never seen this cover of Invisible Man before; I like!