Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, July 13, 2007

Getting stuck in the middle

It used to be that if I got stuck while working on one of my books, I'd move on to another book then come back to the original one later. During the time I worked on the other book, I'd attempt to resolve my dillemma with the original book. And, sometimes, that didn't work out very well. For one novel-in-progress, for example, my character joined an escort service AND got involved in prostitution. I, of course, didn't know how to accurately portray this in my story, since those particular details are not in my past. (I've never even gotten a speeding ticket! Darn, how can I be a novelist with such a clean record?) (Uh, ahem. Just kidding. :) ) I tried many ways to find out that information. Even talking with someone who used to work for an escort service. But, again, it didn't work out, and THAT book remains unfinished to this day. (Even after 300 pages!! Eek! Well, of course I'm going to finish it VERY SOON. After I take care of, oh, say, 16 other books I have on my plate right now...)

One book I've been working on is nonfiction, and, wouldn't you know it, I've gotten stuck in not one but TWO chapters of this book. ARGH!!! It's very frustrating. My problem is limited resources for research.

I've grown more and more skeptical of what I've read on the Internet. I prefer the old standby of getting the facts straight from the horse's mouth. For one chapter, that's taking a LONG TIME, and I'm not even sure I have all the information I need.

For another chapter, all I am seeing about the info I need are rumors and urban legends. Sadly, the urban legends are being reposted on so-called "reputable" sites! Ugh! I've fallen in love with Amazon.com's Reader, scouring passages from books on the subjects. That's only offering me so much, though, and how can I know what even those books say are true?? No, I'd rather seek out the experts and witnesses myself. I'd rather get the facts from PEOPLE and not books, magazine articles or Web sites. Do you know why? Because what goes into print CAN be altered a bit just for the sake of entertainment. I am so serious about this. Stories get sensationalized and fluffed up because if it was true, then it wouldn't sell -- because the truth is NEVER all that entertaining. This is one thing I have learned in the paranormal-writing business. The truth is BORING! And, boring doesn't sell. So things get spiced up a little bit. Words get put into someone's mouth. And, presto! You've got a publishable book or spooky story! (Why else do you think the urban legends win out over the TRUE stories??) I'm not going to let that be the case with THIS book. I want the TRUTH. And I'm going to do what it takes for AS LONG as it takes to hunt down that truth.

I realize this can jeopardize my book's chances of being sold/published. But I'd rather face THAT obstacle then have my name on a book poorly-researched and filled with lies.

So, my problem? Simple: I don't know WHO to seek out to get the truth! D'oh! I'm thinking staff at historical societies and newspaper morgues. It's a start.

All the same, while I'm stuck on THIS book (these particular chapters), I'm not going to work on another book in the meantime. Oh, the temptation is THERE! My muse is distracting me with creating new scenes for ANOTHER novel-in-progress. But, I am drawing the line. I'm saying "no way!" and sticking to working on THIS book!
Until I reach the very end.

Or...until I get soo stuck and there's no other chapters for me to work on anymore that I have to STOP the book-writing altogether and throw myself into getting unstuck.

Yep, that's my plan. :)

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