Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Whether Or Not or Weather Or Not

I don’t seem to be doing too well.  I’m not able to stick to any schedule.  So in the morning it’s whether or not to write.  This is a question I never asked myself during years of writing novels.  I’ve tried to blame my vacillation on the weather, but I know that doesn’t make sense. 

Still, yesterday as the snow fell it was more a reading day to me than a writing day. I started off reading in bed, then moved to the living room and sat in a big comfy chair.  Although I could see the snow easily from my bedroom, the living room afforded me many more windows to watch through if I looked over my reading glasses.

But weather isn’t an excuse I would’ve taken if I had a contract for a novel.  Or maybe even if I was writing a novel without one.  I’m not sure this short story thing is for me.  I’ve always known that short story writing was an art unto itself.  And I always believed some people could and some couldn’t and I counted myself among the latter.

I’m used to the build of a novel, the many characters, the freedom .  A short story needs to be what it says: a story that’s short.  Concise.  It’s true that my novels have become lean in style, but there’s still a license that I don’t find in writing a short story.

I’ve written most of one story and the beginning of another.  I do like that I can go to any story I want on any given day.  Or start a new one without finishing another that I decide I’ll go back to.  Writing a novel I wouldn’t dream of starting a new chapter without finishing the last.

It worries me that if I start a novel my expectations will rise up and bite me.  I have an idea but it isn’t a burning idea.  It doesn’t keep me up at night or take my mind away from what I’m doing.  It’s just an idea.

I do believe I’d be more disciplined if I was writing a novel.  But so what? I see that I can start writing after nine in the morning.  That’s one thing that trying to write stories has given me.  I don’t have to be as inflexible as in the past.

So what if I started writing a novel and didn’t use my rigid schedule?  Would the novel writing police arrive?  Of course I’m the novel writing police.  What if I give writing a novel in a more relaxed fashion a chance? Although trying to write at least four days a week.  I think I’d be happier than attempting short stories and not getting to my desk more than two days a week at most.

There’s no one to stop me except me.  Still, I’ll have to stick to one rigidity.  I’d never start a novel on a Thursday.  I’ll think about this and then if that’s what I want to do I’ll start on Monday. 

I feel anxious simply thinking about it.  Maybe I have to let go of what day I start.  Maybe I have to let what happens happen.  Ohmigod!


Bryon said...

Lawrence Block has a great quote about how the Keller novels came to be. He said he was just writing these stories about the character as they came to him and it wasn't until he had a few stories that he realized he was writing a novel on the installment plan.

Maybe that's what you need to do. See each chapter as a short story unto itself.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

Thanks Bryon. I've missed your comments here.

Jess said...

I think you should try being the total opposite of what you were.
Just for kicks. :)

But then that other side of me is so envious that with book in hand, you can move from the bed to the chair and look out all those windows at the snow. {{sigh}}

Reading at your leisure. Doing your own thing just the way you want... sounds wonderful.

Barbara Martin said...

I agree with Byron as I was going to say that you treat each chapter like a short story, which is what they are. At least so I've been told.