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Journal of a novel: Sept. 14, 2015. Creative tension

September 14, 2016

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

John Steinbeck worked on his novel every weekday and even on some weekends. I, too, have been writing. I just haven’t been blogging.

I had Labor Day off from work (that sounds like an oxymoron) so I spent it writing. I finished the first draft of Lady Blackwing, a short story, an assignment for a writing class that I’m taking.

Also, there’s several writing contests that I’m considering entering. One is Creativindie’s writing contest for a free writing retreat. A vacancy has opened in a retreat to a castle in France from Oct. 25 to Nov. 23. I plan to do my sixth National Novel Writing Month marathon in November. How better to focus on my writing than to closet myself away in a French castle? The contest entry requires that I supply a first chapter, a book summary or an outline. I don’t have that much at this writing. I don’t even have a working title. I can tell you this, though: it will be a contemporary mystery in which Kabbalah plays a big role. I have in mind a total genre mishmash with elements of Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, Religion and Spirituality, maybe even some Romance.

I have been keeping up with reading John Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel. In his April 16, entry, he asks his editor if they can refrain from talking about the work-in-progress when they meet. Steinbeck says

…it confuses me and throw me off the story.

I can relate, but for a different reason. I find that if I talk too much about what I’m working on, I don’t write it. It’s as if there’s a tension about it that I can relieve by writing. (Oddly enough, that very thing is portrayed in my Lady Blackwing short story). Talking about it can also dissipate that tension thereby reducing the need to write.

Once the project is well underway, though, I often need to brainstorm, to try out different directions the plot can take. My late husband was wonderful for this. He would listen patiently while I rattled on about people, places, and events that don’t exist. Working it out in my notebook isn’t quite the same thing.


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