Getting Back in Gear

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

It’s been a strange winter for writing. You’d think winter time would be the best time for writing. No sunshine to beckon you outdoors to put your hands in the dirt and plant something. No Spring Fever to make you want to go fishing or clean something like windows. Unfortunately those are two fevers I never get. I’ve been fishing once in my life when I was in seventh grade for a school outing. I didn’t like it. And I would always rather do something else than clean. I like having cleaned. Just not the actual cleaning.

That’s a quote I read once from another author. That he or she liked to have written, but not the actual writing. I’m afraid I was in that uncomfortable position today. I had to take some time out of writing to babysit the grandbabies and then the galleys for my next book, The Believer, came in and while there weren’t many queries, there were enough to keep me busy for a week. I always want to read the manuscript over again and make the words flow as smoothly as I can. I hate reading back over something I’ve written that’s already published and seeing sloppy writing that I didn’t catch in the editing process. So I try to edit and read carefully to catch most of the rough spots or mistakes.

I read a book the other day where the writer changed the person’s name from one paragraph to the next on the same page. Now somebody didn’t do their homework on that one. I’ve messed up on names a hundred pages apart which is why I keep a character list of all the named characters in my books as I’m writing. Most of the time a good copyeditor or a careful proofreading writer can catch the changeable name kind of mistake or at least they should. In this book, The Believer, I had one of my characters bald early on and then in a later scene, I had someone brushing the hair back off his forehead. I hadn’t given him a comb-over either! I did catch that, thank goodness. And no, it wasn’t the hero. Does anybody ever write a novel with a bald hero if he isn’t a hard-boiled detective or private eye? Perhaps I should consider it. I’m always looking for ways to stretch my ideas into new territory. That’s probably why I’ve got several unsold manuscripts filling up some shelves in my closet. Readers like what they like and I’m not sure that would include a romantic going bald hero.

But anyway, back to the hard writing today. I had been away from it too long, I think. I couldn’t seem to pick up the thread for the next scene. I’m not sure I’ve done it yet, but I did finally get some words written that I didn’t delete immediately. Sometimes I know where I want to go with a story but I’m not sure how I’m going to get there. There are times when that happens that I need to not worry about the trip and just go through the door and be there. Maybe that’s what I need to do now. Just plop my characters down where I want them to be and then figure it out. But then what if they aren’t quite ready to be there? There are times characters just don’t cooperate if they’re not ready. And sometimes, to the relief of many writers, the characters are readier for action after a good night’s sleep. I hope my subconscious works hard all night long.

And I did get the galleys done and off in the mail. That’s to the good. I’m just hoping and praying I don’t catch the horrible cold that has my husband dragging around the house. And worse there’s a terrible stomach virus going around town. Sounds like a good time to hole up and not go out among the germs except Darrell’s already brought the cold germs inside. Oh well, that seems to be part of winter too. A part I hope all of you have missed.

Stay well and keep the winter evenings interesting by reading some good books.