I finally understand why books about writing suggest writing the first draft of a novel as quickly as possible, to forget the mechanics and just get the story on paper or in the computer. I’ve never been able to do that — the words come hard to me (or perhaps I enjoy the search for the right word too much). Either way, it takes me a long time to write a book. I also write longhand, which limits the number of words I can write at a sitting. Still, my work-in-progress has been taking longer than normal. In fact, I’ve been playing around with it on and off (mostly off) for more than two years.
I just finished typing up what I have written so far — 39,000 words. Very good words, actually. The book started out as a humorous apocalyptic fantasy, metamorphosed into horror, then turned into allegory (which is sort of ridiculous, because who reads allegory nowadays?) but it seems to have gradually swung full circle and become humorous again. I found myself laughing aloud at times, which is something I seldom do when reading, and never before at anything I wrote.
I’m anxious to get back to writing — the story deserves to be told. (And I hate the thought of wasting those hard won words.) The problem is, I am not the same person today as I was when I conceived the story. I’m not even the same as I was in January when I last worked on the book. The past two years have been filled with changes — learning how to use a computer, learning the Internet, finding a publisher, learning how to promote (or rather trying to learn), to say nothing of the wonderful people I have met and the friends I have made. It’s been a life changing experience, this becoming Pat Bertram, author.
So the question is, do I continue writing the book as I conceived it, do I try to wing it, do I do what I’ve been doing all along — writing when and what I feel like? A more important question that haunts me is that my first four books had a particular theme — how public lies and hidden truths affect our lives — and I have said what I wanted to say about that. So where do I go from here?
I don’t write short stories, but Second Wind is going to be putting out an anthology in September, and my publisher is tying to talk me into submitting a story. (You can submit one too. Second Wind is sponsoring a contest, and the winner will be published. You can find the details here: Mystery Contest.) So that will allow me to put off working on my manuscript for a while (which I’m sure is not what he had in mind), but eventually I will have to decide what I want to write. What I want to say.
In the end, it will depend on who Pat Bertram becomes. And of that, I haven’t a clue.