Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Novel is Never Really Finished

I recently completed writing the first draft of my mildly dystopian thriller "J159". I was excited to say the least, but the moment I finished, I immediately felt compelled to begin editing and rewrites. So off I trekked to Chapter 1 and waded through the words all over again.

A nip, a tuck, a little glue here and there. I unraveled the sections that seemed matted together like a pile of wire clothes hangers, and I emerged on the other side, with what felt like a wonderful story in excellent shape.

Then we go again...

Now I'm doing yet another pass, this time looking for typos and formatting errors. The type of things you overlook when concentrating on the finer points of the overall language, or inadvertently add back in when you "fix" a phrase. Much like when we all allow our electronic devices to install "updates". They claim they will fix bugs, but deep down, we all know that in fixing one, they will likely add at least two back in its place.

I'm currently proof reading Chapter 5, and will eventually make my way back out the other end of Chapter 15, but then what? Will this go on forever?

I've recently discovered with my oil paintings (yes, I do that too from time to time), that if I keep on refining the same painting until I am perfectly happy with it, then it will never be finished. I will never be truly happy with it until it is perfect, and a perfect painting simply doesn't exist. I'm slowly working my way around to the acceptance of the fact that no novel I ever write will be perfect either. The trick with writing (just like painting), is finding that balance that you can live with, and then happily moving on to the next project. Finding that balance is hard, but if I don't figure it out eventually, you'll never get to read the book.

So, for now I'll keep proof reading. Then I will release it to my beta readers to pick it apart. After a few more iterations, I may well be ready to let you see it.

Happy Reading.
R.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Who Changed the Script?

I could tell you a tale, oh how I could tell you a tale...

Our move from North Carolina to Texas could have originally been depicted as a buddy comedy, filled with errors, mix-ups, annoyances, frustrations, and the odd bit of comic relief. The kind of adventure that gets under your skin at the time, but at the end of the day, you sit back and laugh as you shake your head in disbelief.

Somewhere along the way (in Louisiana to be precise), someone changed the script. An underinsured driver of an 18 wheeler was written into our lives, and our buddy comedy quickly turned into a seemingly unfathomable action movie. Time was passing slowly enough as our caravan of vehicles sat motionless, one behind the other in traffic on the I-10. That's when this unwanted character invaded our lovely film. This driver, who seemingly forgot what the brake pedal was for, slammed through us at over 70mph. I still can't bring myself to describe for you exactly what happened, as my eyes tear up and my hands start to shake when ever I paint that picture in my mind. Just suffice to say that it made my favorite action movies appear all the more real to me after that day. The sequences you see when massive collisions happen in painfully slow motion, are indeed accurate. Those actors who skillfully portray so much going on in so little time, are indeed masters, whose acting prowess far exceeds the acclaim their genres are usually afforded.

My two young children were in the back seat praying throughout the ordeal, and we thank God that we are alive. As for possessions... we lost over 90% of them that day. That which wasn't incinerated by the multiple explosions, was either horribly burned, smashed, or at a minimum, soaked with diesel and gasoline. 

Imagine sitting on the floor in the bathroom of a hotel room, while you attempt to dry diesel fuel from birth certificates with a hair dryer. The pungent fumes attacking your already throbbing head while you sit quietly on the cold, hard tile, trying desperately not to cry too loudly or you will wake your children. That was the first of many months of sifting through rubble. 

In the months that followed this ordeal, I frequently found myself asking,
"Where do we go from here?"

Whilst the dust has settled and the fumes have largely dissipated, we are still engulfed in the ongoing dramas. Medical, insurance, legal, those issues are painful enough, but they pale in comparison to the emotional toll such an event can have on a family. Fears, anxiety, nightmares, above all else, I was so angry with what that man had put my children through. Being afraid to get into a car, unable to sleep, night terrors. I needed somewhere to vent my anger, for fear that I would soon errupt with more force than Mount Saint Helens.

Time and exhaustion chipped away at my inability to sleep, and my zombi-like state was soon replaced with brief, recurring nightmares. Unable to face another repeat of that terror, I swapped attempts to sleep with writing. It became my outlet. I worked through my fears, my rage, my helplessness with every completed page. Pouring the emotions that I could not confront for myself, into the very life of the characters in my novel.

Night after night, emotion after emotion, I wrote.

I recently reached the all important words on my manuscript "The End". As I go back through each chapter, editing and completing rewrites, I am reminded of the emotions that I felt along the journey of writing this book. One day soon, when you read it, I'm sure you will be surprised by the topic of the novel and the characters within it. You may wonder how I could possibly draw parallels between its story and mine. But for those of you who know me, or consider what I've just told you, you may find glimpses of me and my struggles hidden within the pages.

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (@realreneelogan) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/WordOfRenee), I will swing back around here from time to time and let you know how things are progressing. Hopefully one day soon, you'll be reading my novel "J159" for yourself. I look forward to the day when you can ask me questions and tell me what you think. 

As for the question "Where do we go from here?" Simple, we rebuild. My family is what matters most to me, and that's the way it will always be.

Wishing you all love, peace, and countless blessings.

Renee.