signaling a lane change

Maybe. Perhaps. Possibly. Dunno yet.

Long-time readers (both of you) will recall that along with the Fathers and Sons stories that have monopolized my creative self for a couple of years, I also have a finished novel titled The Sleep of Reason that I really should be shopping around. I had some good nibbles for it in the past, but my enthusiasm to submit had waned, lethargy and entropy ensued, and now I’m mired. Poor me, right?

You may also recall that I had embarked on writing a series of murderless cozy mystery novels with a husband and wife team of reluctant sleuths, all set in or featuring the bed and breakfast inns where they would stay on their travels. (They were my original purpose for starting this humble blog.) I’ve written four novels in that series, one of which I think is actually good, two of which I think can be salvaged, and one of which may remain forever on the self of apprentice work. In recent weeks, ideas for a couple of the unwritten entries in this mystery series have been presenting themselves in my tortured little brain. I pretty much have the basic plots worked out for these, and I’ve compiled lots of notes for them over the years. I think I have critical mass achieved for one of them. (It involves running!)

And so I wonder if maybe it is time for me to step away from the Fathers and Sons stories (so fraught and literary they are) and put some time/effort/creativity into the less demanding cozy mystery stories. I wonder if my current seeming stalemate with the F&S stories combined with the fresh ideas for the cozy mystery stories might be a sign that I should change lanes for a while.

Can I travel freely and easily between styles and genres as I propose? I think so. I’m not prohibiting myself from doing one or the other (or even some third thing if it presented itself — but not poetry; I can’t do poetry). I like to think I could work to exhaustion on one and then pick up fresh with another since they are quite different. I think that’s what I’m going to try to do.

My mother told me long ago that you should always use the turn signal in your car, even if you don’t see anyone around you, because you may be signalling for the car you don’t see. And that’s kind of what this post is like. Maybe there is someone actually reading this and will appreciate my signal.

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2 Comments on “signaling a lane change”

  1. Averil Dean Says:

    I do appreciate your signal, and I think you’d totally rock a cozy mystery. Get those babies out of the drawer!


  2. It seems to be the month of people thinking about older novels and projects. Another writing friend has been rewriting a novel for further submission. As I work on the second draft of my current novel, I’ve been thinking about setting it aside to do a rewrite on my last completed novel that I never fully gave a chance at submission. And there’s you, looking at cozy mysteries.

    This week, I listened to this podcast with Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter (http://www.infiniteguest.org/tiny-sense/2015/05/live-with-kerri-miller/). At one point, Jess Walter talks about taking 14 years to finish Beautiful Ruins. He wasn’t working solely on that book — he set it aside and write other things. Nine years in, he gave a draft to a trusted friend to read, and the friend said, “This is not ready…” Walter knocked out a novel in 10 months and worked on other things until having his greatest success.

    This year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner took 10 years to write All the Light We Cannot See. He wrote other things during that time.

    I often feel like the thing before me is the thing I MUST write…and maybe I’d do that if I wrote fiction full time. But I don’t. I work a day job and have a life and sometimes it takes years for something to feel right and ready. I don’t know if I’ll go back and rewrite my last finished novel and actually, for once, call on some favors to get it read. But I have to think, if I jumped back to this other book, what I’m working on now wouldn’t suffer; in fact, it might end up better.

    I always look forward to seeing anything you write moving along, and hope you can either jump to something older and have a little fun, or find the focus to finish the Fathers and Sons cycles.


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