When writing my first novel stalled out after ten pages last month, I switched gears to finish editing my long neglected vampire novella. If I can’t finish a novella with half-dozen characters, 18,000 words and 90 pages of manuscript, what business do I have writing a novel that’s four times as big?
The process of editing a novella from the first draft to the second draft made for a long month. Being in a creative daze was both exhilarating and exciting, but I wondered what was happening to the rest of my life when I wasn’t editing day and night. I had vague recollections of going to work, seeing the dentist, working out at the gym, watching movies at the theater, attending my ceramic classes, and running errands. With the exception of my ceramics class, I found myself being less creative in other areas of my life. No paintings. No drawings. No reading. I felt exhausted once I emerged from my editing daze to take a deep breath of air.
My mind was in an alternative reality where I considered two moral questions that form the backbone of my novella:
“Why would a caring God allow monsters like vampires to walk the earth?”
“Where’s the dividing line between humans and monsters?”
These questions have no easy answers. Not that they should have any easy answers. How the characters resolve these questions is what makes the story entertaining for the reader. What it doesn’t do is make the story any easier for the writer to write.
I’m letting the second draft rest for a week before I start editing the third draft. Or maybe I’m giving myself permission to rest before I jump back into that creative daze again. The next draft is to refine the story further, tighten up the moral conflicts and polish the language. One or two more drafts before I can send the novella out into a cruel world of rejection.
I’m also writing the rough draft of a new short story about a Silicon Valley investigative reporter who is chasing one hell of a story if he doesn’t lose his soul to the devil first. Nailing down the breezy narrative voice of a cynical Silicon Valley reporter to contrast a world that is both primitive and technological, while resisting the temptation to research the symbolically heavy imagery that got me writing the story, is a difficult challenge. The rough draft consists of several written pages of the first scene, and scattered paragraphs of several scenes in my writing journal. I’ll finish this story after my novella gets done but before I re-start my novel.
I’ll be in a creative daze all summer long, but it won’t be from what my next door neighbors are smoking on their balcony.
NOTE: This blog post was first published on Once Upon An Albatross… blog.