Tuesday, September 29, 2009


After quite a while of talking about everything else but: a writing update.

Current project status. I have a few short stories I want to polish, refine, edit, and get out on submission. But I feel like I can't stop work on the novel. I'm still editing and the pace is GLACIAL. I crave momentum.

A few days ago I sat down in a cafe with no wifi and no distractions. I edited furiously for two hours. No pauses, no daydreaming, just caffeine and editing. I was pleased with my work when I was done. But I only got through 3000 words, ten pages. Ten pages! I should have been able to write that much from scratch in two hours! And that was a good work day!

So: glacial. And I'm losing faith in the novel itself. It's a mystery. But it doesn't follow all the necessary/conventional tropes. I modeled it on a classic Christie novel, by which I mean that the whodunit is similar, though the how, why, what, and where are very different. I also borrowed Christie's pacing and cast size.

But Christie didn't always have a body in the first chapter. Nor does my novel. And I keep hearing how you can't sell a genre mystery like that anymore.

There's a barrage of suggestions for mystery writers: more dialogue! More action! More physical danger! Be economical with your description and character development!

And it's just . . . not what I write. I like read books like this, certainly, and it's a wonderful stretch for me to try to work in this genre, but . . . it's not what comes naturally to me.

I just finished reading Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union and I thought: YES!!! Not for the mystery side of it, because, for me, the mystery was way secondary to the conceit, the style, the writing.

The conceit, the style the writing!

I thought you weren't supposed to be able to do it like that! I thought that you just can't sell books like that right now. THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION breaks all the rules!

But it's really really good.

And therein lies the rub. I am no Chabon. I'm just a girl who wants to be a writer and is still learning and practicing and working and hoping and dreaming and trying to figure out the next step.

Speaking of which, tonight I went to see Sara Paretsky at a Left Bank Books sponsored reading at The Ethical Society. She was fabulous, of course. Having seen Paretsky in person, I love her even more than I do on the page.

And she's yet another brilliant writer who talks about how hard it is. How she gets distracted by any little thing, how she treats herself with chocolate or motivates herself with chocolate if she hasn't earned a treat. She's fabulous. And motivating.


  1. I'd love to meet Sara Paretsky! I'm a slow reviser too. Hmmm....I slow at most things writing related, really.

  2. Impossible! Your pace (looking purely at pub dates of entire, completed NOVELS) impresses this slow writer.