Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Finally climbing back on the novel-writing 'horse'

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - When I left New York in November, my plan was to give a pulpit-pounding speech at the Green Festival and Expo at the San Francisco Cow Palace. After that, the plan was to settle in here in California and continue work on the draft of my next novel, The Devil's Pipeline.

As some of you know I never gave that speech. And it was just today that the characters in The Devil's Pipeline - Jack Stafford, his son Noah, sisters-in-law Cass and Anne and a long cast of others introduced in The Fracking War and/or Fracking Justice - came out of a two-month, author-induced slumber.

In November, a head cold & severe laryngitis turned quickly into pneumonia and eventually transmogrified into just a nasty, nasty bronchitis, hacking cough and aching bones.

And so it was that novel writing went by the boards. I was able to keep up with my Finger Lakes Times column. And I read a lot of fiction and non-fiction - about pipelines among other things. But work on the novel? Not a chance.

My usual mode of fiction writing is to start a story and  run with it - just as fast as I can think and type. There are no long hiatuses or thumb sucking. I just keep the story moving.

It's like real life. You get up, do your day, repeat. So taking two months off created a panic over lost momentum.

Panic? Yup.

Suppose I couldn't pick up the thread and get the plot moving again? Suppose, suppose, suppose?

Excuse the overused phrase but, "No worries, mate."

What helped was actually sending a note to an aspiring writer just a few days ago who wants to get  started on a book. She was worried by the daunting prospect of pounding out 70,000-100,000 words.

My advice was to think of writing as stacking paragraphs. Build a paragraph, then stack it. Build another one, stack. And another.

So after re-reading the roughly 20,000 words I had penned months before being gripped by the grippe, this morning I stacked for a couple of hours. When I was done, Jack and Cass were arguing on a bucking airplane, Calvin Boviné had reappeared from Fracking Justice and Horseheads Clarion Editor Eli Gupta discovered. ... Well, I don't really want to say more about that. Eli and I are still trying to figure out what he found really means.

The incentive to get writing again got a huge boost several weeks ago from Kirkus Reviews when the magazine named Fracking Justice as one of the top 100 indie books of 2015. It's drawing more attention to The Fracking War also.

I'm honored and very thankful for the notice.

No matter though, it's just good to be back at this keyboard.