Friday, April 18, 2008

Vaguely Connected to Reality

Anyone who has ever had an email account knows about the randomly generated subject lines and emails you get as spam advertisements for on-line meds, watches (there are an awful lot of those out there), designer handbags, and herb treatments for manly-type things. There is now an entire literary subculture based on this called "Spam poetry," in which writers use the strange lines they get in their emails and either use them as a basis for a new poem or string them all together. Fascinating stuff. I wonder if anyone has ever gotten an idea for a novel that way.

Does this have anything to do with anything I'm working on right now? Absolutely not and yes, it does. I'm writing something completely new and I'm finding the ground is constantly shifting underneath me. It's like writing on top of an earthquake house, one of those fake buildings they use to simulate earthquakes to see what happens. I feel sometimes like I might as well be writing spam poetry: just one weird thought after another, completely disconnected from each other. Thank god for my outline - each time I change things I can refer back to my outline so I know where I'm going. As I have said many, many times before, writing is where the characters are formed but rewriting is where the story is shaped. When writing the first draft, I discover who my characters are, where they're from, what they do, how they think and interact with each other. And then when I begin rewriting, I restructure the story that I was only vaguely constructing during the first go-round.

(Hence the title of this post...)

The house will eventually stop shaking, I know this from past experience, so it doesn't help to panic in the middle of it or to go back to the beginning and start over. Not yet. I have to wait until it's all done, all the characters are out there and there's a beginning, middle and end. Then I rewrite. I know I have been repeating myself. I know the first 150 pages need to be cut in half. I know the motivations of my main characters are not clear. I just have to keep notes each time the earth shakes so I can have something to work from when I do finish the first draft.

A couple of ALL ABOUT VEE notes:
--The new book is available in audio form at! How cool is that! I just listened to a sample of it this morning. Stephanie Wolf is the narrator and she's marvelous.
--I will be raffling off a copy of my book when I do my writing workshop at West Hollywood Public Library at 2:30PM on May 3. I'm calling it, "Just Finish It!" Catchy title, eh?