Sunday, June 28, 2009

Traveler in the Dark

The title of this post is what I've re-christened my novel as of September of 2007. I stole a page from the John Steinbeck idea book and used a phrase from the verse of a well-known song. (He did it with "The Grapes of Wrath," which is a line from "Battle Hymn of the Republic." I actually hear his wife Elaine came up with the title, though.) Being a slightly less talented writer than Steinbeck, I aimed a bit lower and used a phrase from a later verse of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:"

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are

I'll try to be a bit more regular of a contributor on my own blog here. I've said that before, of course, but I think maybe setting a timer of say 10 minutes to "warm up" the typing fingers might help me with my productivity on the novel for the night. I'll do that now.

I've been "closing" scenes off, meaning that they are in a condition that I can safely say I'm no longer embarrassed about them. I'm on my fifth draft of my novel and I can sense it finally, FINALLY coming together during this final draft. It's a little late to be altering vital story elements and rearranging scenes, but I'm doing it anyway, and just about every change I make seems to be the right one. I've been going to college full-time since late 2007, and I'm just now stepping off a six-month break from my novel, which is really helping me see the story through fresh eyes.

I'm very proud of my story and I think it will sell. It will likely follow the route of every book in existence and first be turned down by every agent and publisher on planet Earth, but I'll keep the faith and keep plugging away (and even move on to a second novel if I can't seem to get this one sold).

My main focus now is figuring out a way to keep the final act from seeming too rushed and forced. I need to get Robbie's dad calling him from jail and trying to coerce his son to help in his release earlier on. I need to pump up Wendell's appearances a bit more and make the dialogue more meaningful (maybe even have those two do something fun or significant together). Sometimes I feel that Wendell is only around to provide a dramatic departure later in the story. Why are they friends? Why do they click when so many other people pick on or don't like Robbie?

By the way, I'm changing Wendell's race to black. Despite all the times I've mentioned his blond hair and that Robbie can see his veins through his pale skin due to his sickness, people can't seem to understand that he's supposed to be white. Maybe because I gave him realistic teen dialogue, which I suppose resembles the rhythm of urban black talk. Readers, particularly older ones, don't seem to understand that ALL teenagers these days, not just black ones, talk sort of hip-hoppy. And I swear if one more person tells me they thought Wendell is black because he speaks "jive talk," I'm going to rend my hair from my head. God, these preconceptions are just locked in!

I'm 8 1/2 minutes on my timer, so I better wind this up. I've closed 20 of the novel's 84 scenes, and I have to get to work. I'm feeling inspired and good, and I have a 10-day break before my classes for the second half of the summer semester start. Expect me to check in for a 10-minute warm-up like this every day during that break.

Nine and a half! Deep breath. Relax. And PLUNGE into the world of the story, man!


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