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Friday, November 30, 2012

The New Novel Blues


When writing a novel, there are two very easy chapters to write; the first one and the last one pour out of you onto the page with incredible ease. They are a joy to write and you feel like you have touched upon artful perfection. For me, the first half of the book is always the easiest. Unfortunately, there comes a time about two-thirds the way into it when each new chapter is like climbing Mt. Everest, and blank pages are met with an equally blank stare from me. I become disinterested, doubtful about the entire book, and look for anything else to distract me from writing. It is times like these when I can drift away into hours of free association googling. You know what I'm talking about, when you start by checking your email and an hour later you find yourself reading some blog about raising chinchillas.

As I write this I have 70,000 words of my next novel complete. I can't say how many more words there will be, but I'd put it at around 90,000 tops. I know where it is going to end and I am excited about getting to that ending. The only advantage I have in this situation is that I have been here before. I am tempted to rush to the ending right now because I don't know what else is going to happen between now and then yet and I don't really want to think about it all. Luckily, I have learned to slow down and let the story tell itself. In a few minutes I will begin free writing with no plan at all and the characters will make things happen. At least I hope they will make things happen. 

The point is this...when writing a story...keep writing. No matter how horrible you think it is half way through it. It's the only way to ever finish it. Write. If it feels wrong, write. If you think it is the worst thing to ever touch paper, write. When you don't know what else to say, write some more. If you know the beginning and are excited about the story and know the end, then all you have left is the middle to fill in. Write it. Write it every day. Don;t set it aside or give up on it while you brainstorm. You will never finish it tomorrow. We could all be dead tomorrow. In a hundred years we will all be dead. Write it today, edit it tomorrow. You'll never regret it when it is finished.

I always wrote things. Always. I also always wanted to write a book. I never could stick them out and finish them. I'd lose interest or lose faith in it. Eventually I met someone who forced me to write. She made me finish what I started. She worked me like Pavlov's dog (and still does) telling me how good I have done when I get a chapter that day, or how little I have done when I don't. I still get two-thirds the way through and want to burn my laptop along with everything on it, dancing around it like a wild man in the back yard. But I don't. Instead I write. Every day. And the reward is one of the best things that I have ever done in my life. Good, bad, ugly, or otherwise...they can never take it away from you when it is finished. YOU wrote a novel.

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