Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Disparities abound

I'm two-thirds of the way done with the challenge for November but only maybe a fourth to a third of the way done on my book. Confusing? Here's a hint of clarity, I hope.

The challenge at is to write a 50K word book in 30 days. They don't care if it's done, really; what matters is word count. I was unemployed and living alone when I focused on "Bobby Carapisi" back in November 2007, so I was able to toss aside my life and spend 10-12 hours a day working on the book. Didn't hurt I'd been thinking about it and working it out for a few years so when crunch time came, I got the full 124K thing done within the 30 day maximum. Still it took nearly 2 years of editing and smoothing and rewriting to get it into publishable form.

Last year I was in basically the same situation, but I was doing storyboards for a medium-budget film and I'd already done the work I was contracted for by the time November rolled around, but the director'd rewritten the script and they wanted more changes (just not for more money) and I stupidly said I'd do it because they hadn't paid me in full, yet, and I was also planning for a move to San Antonio, so the book I wound up with, "The Golden Sea," met the challenge but is such a mess, I feel I have to practically start over to do it right.

This month, I have no jobs outside the home, but I no longer live alone and my mother and brother offer constant interruptions, distractions and irritations when I'm trying to write. And I'm working on a story that is very demanding. Therefore, while I may meet the 50K goal for the month, I don't think I'll have the book finished. But then again...I might. I honestly have no idea, right now. I just know I don't want my first draft to be as crappy as the one I churned out last year, so I'm not pushing it, anymore.

You see, while I'm getting close to done with the third section, it's like Brendan wants to see how I handle the ending before he lets me deeper into his beginning. And I've tried to keep this book from being a throwaway story -- one that's silly and exciting to read and too "Hollywood" to really matter.

You know, "War and Peace" had some breathtakingly written battle sequences in it -- especially the Battle of Borodino -- but what mattered was the reality of the people in the book. They carried it into the realm of poetry. Same for "Anna Karinina." There's a chapter where Levin, after fighting with his peasants over modernizing the farm, goes out in the fields to reap some wheat -- and the way it is written and Levin's contemplations and growing awareness of the meaning of the land and his people's connection to it was heart-stopping in its beauty.

Meanwhile, a couple decades ago Leon Uris wrote a book about Ireland leading up to the Easter Rebellion in 1916 that was very descriptive but flat, tedious and sometimes dropped into melodrama. Especially the section where he transposed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in NYC into Belfast to give one character a reason to battle the Brits...and then avoided letting us understand the true depths of the man's pain by shunting his despair off to one corner of the page until it was under enough control to deal with, again.

So...I'm aiming for Tolstoy instead of Uris. That's a monstrous standard to put myself against, but with POS I feel it's better to at least shoot for the stars; maybe I'll wind up on the moon.

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