Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, November 06, 2006

Taking a cue from real life

I didn't post my update here last night because I had put it off. I made it the LAST thing I did yesterday. Which is why I never got around to doing it: The last thing I did yesterday ended up being arguing with my 5-year-old to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!! go to sleep. The cough medicine I'd taken was making me SERIOUSLY drowsy. And my daughter was seriously wide awake. (Ah, but she's the night owl.) So by the time she drifted off to sleep, I had, too.

But, yesterday, I pretty much grumbled and ranted about this infernal book. You know, you can REALLY tell when a writer is working on a new novel: They get all moody and bitchy. Yup, that was me. I even told my sister I'd developed a love/hate relationship with my computer because of the very fact my NaNoWriMo book is on it. Just WAITING for me to finish it.

I worked on the book yesterday. And I worked on it more today. I felt a slight ray of hope as I did some more reseach on the Internet. But, the truth of the matter is, my protagonist is not very likable. I don't LIKE her. At all. She's the kind of jaded person I totally avoid.

Well. Maybe that's a good thing. See, it gives her the chance to IMPROVE for the rest of the story. Well, if that's possible. She's SUPPOSED to, anyway. We'll see what happens.

My research took me to a message board at the NaNoWriMo site. (I don't post on there; my hangout is the Absolute Write Water Cooler!) I thought 'maybe it would help if I visited it.' Then I regretted ever checking it out. Some writers have their word count at 10,000 and even 25,000. I haven't even gotten to 5,000 yet. Sigh.

So, anyway. I had been reading this novel called The House Beautiful by Allison Burnett (I finished it some days ago). At one part of the story, a publishing company editor tells this aspiring novelist that her book is "like ramblings. Like a diary. As though you were just typing whatever came into your head. Or whatever happened to you and your friends that day." (pg. 195) This disheaterned me, probably more than it did the character. My NaNoWriMo book is like that. Like a diary. It's not EXACTLY a diary per se...just, diary entries. If it was ACTUALLY a diary, readers would get VERY bored VERY fast. No, I spread out the things that happen to my character. I don't make it day-to-day stuff. And I don't actually have them like typical diary entries, either. They're more like scenes, narrated by a writer and not just "summed up" by a diarist. Well, you know, something like that. All the same, that quote had me worried. (Gah! It's too soon to start worrying about this book!) What if it got that same response from publishers?? Or...what if the response was, "NOBODY has a life as interesting or eventful as that!"

Well...if they DO say that...I would disagree.

Look at MY OWN freaking life, for example. Believe you me, A LOT of unbelievable, crazy, and TOTALLY unexpected stuff has happened in my life. I am dead serious about this. Crazy stuff. Shocking stuff. I mean, I used to go around saying, "My life could be a freaking soap opera!" And, it was true. For a long while there, something happened EVERY week. You could always count on it.

So....I think about that. The fact that I myself have had an interesting, eventful life. And, it gives me hope. I do believe my book can still pull its weight and pass THAT "too unbelievable" test. Because, really, a lot of real life is just as unbelievable.


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