Thursday, September 2, 2010

Genrebreaking II: Wandering Farther Into the Wood

I've dabbled in some creative nonfiction essays, and that has worked out more or less well, but rambling on about something I want to talk about is easy (if not necessarily graceful). I've gone much deeper into the genre woods this time, looking for refreshment and challenge. I've started a fantasy novel!

Now, to be fair, I started this novel ten or twelve years ago and stuck it in a drawer. Any number of reasons - I'm not fiction-trained; being a poet means I lack the stamina for a full-fledged novel length work; I wasn't sure where it would lead me and that made me nervous (because fiction, after all, needs a plot, whereas poetry doesn't, really).

In any case, it's been nagging me for awhile now. The poetry muse is quiet for now since I can't quiet my brain, but all sorts of fun snippets for this story keep colliding in my brain, creating interesting scenarios, sparking plot that actually moves it forward past the murk that stopped me from writing it years ago.

I fully expect the book to be god-awful, at least in its initial form. I don't know if a first draft of it will ever even get done. But I very much want to give it a go and see if I can make a real story live. A REAL book, for all the folks who lift up their noses suspiciously when I mention my other books are poetry.

I've looked into some things to keep my eye on (like the Snowflake method of keeping track of things - this story got unwieldy fast, and became too much to hold in my head). I'm tracking a lot of craft-of-writing blogs that focus on fiction, and some cruel/funny literary agent blogs for tips and tricks. So far I have an interesting mash - we'll see what comes of it. It's far more interesting than a personal diary would be, and I dont feel the need for it to be perfect on the first strike like I do when working with a line of poetry.

And so the book, which will likely never see the light of day, is tentatively titled Warborn: Book I of the Warmaiden Chronicles, and I'm tickled to be working on it until the poetry side of my brain reasserts itself.

Manuscripts in Progress: Slow Going

With These Terrible Sacraments and Gonesongs put to bed and coming out over the next 18 months from Bellowing Ark, and waiting on the editors at Punkin House Press to tear apart the essays in The Kentucky Vein in the next year or so, all of my completed manuscripts are out and done.

**WHOOSH** <--Sigh of relief.

Now, I have two poetry manuscripts in their infancies. Madwoman City (title subject to change, it's early yet) is a collection of narratives in different womens' voices (including characters from fiction, popular figures, goddesses from different cultural mythologies, historical characters, and some random men on their interactions with women in all out lovely, burning madness). It's not taking a great shape yet, but there's a shadow of a shape there...essentially, I have to get cracking at writing new pieces, and then I can pick and choose the ones that fit the mood of the book I want to build. I've got a second infant collection, Two Apples Too Heavy for Heaven - a few poems had actually started in Madwoman but the tone didn't seem quite right...these have more of an eye towards deities, in various forms and emotion. This one, somehow, I think will be the most difficult to write and put together well; I also think it'll be an important one for me to write.

I had actually tried to mash the two books together in the hope that would work and I'd have another near-done manuscript. (I know, I know, there's no need to rush, that's sloppy, and I've already got a ton in the pipe waiting on release. I know!) In any case, it didn't work for me, at least not as the collections stand right now, with a handful of pieces in each. And I've been so tired from being sick for the past 6 weeks that I've not had the energy to do anything but try not to fall too much farther behind at work. And so what I really need is quiet time, where I can tidy my brain and get back to writing.

Between the illness that has slowed me down (still recovering from taking out my nasty gallbladder), stressing over work, meeting other writing deadlines for librarian-related publications, and not sleeping well, I've lost a bit of my creative center. Luckily, we're coming up on a holiday weekend where I will do nothing but vegetate (and perhaps a bit of homework for that doctorate I'm working on). Perhaps this will help me kick my creative side in the pants and get it going again. Truly. It doesn't get to take a vacation until *I* do.