I’ve spent most of this relaxing (and thankfully) quiet Mother’s Day preparing for what I’ve dubbed “Novel Boot Camp.” I will have three mostly uninterrupted weeks of writing time coming up in the middle of June while the kiddo is in daycamp from 10:00 until 2:00 each day, and then a few extra hours while he’s asleep for nap time if I’m lucky.
I started writing this novel in 2007 and got a significant way into it (about 65,000 words) before putting it aside to write short fiction. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy working on the book – it was just that with the very short amount of time that I get to write each day or week, I wasn’t making much progress with the broader structural/plot issues that needed to be resolved before I could proceed. Those short little blips during naps or just after bedtime when I could sit down for just a few minutes and write were far more conducive to writing short stories or flash fiction. And far more satisfying at that point as well. Up until then, I hadn’t ever really seen my work through to an end point – polished, edited, submitted, rejected, submitted again…etc. The novel was too big, too overwhelming, and not at all close to completion, In other words, rather depressing.
But I’ve cycled back to it, out of sheer determination to make it WORK. I’ll be taking those entire three weeks to whip it into shape. Tackle the major issues, timeline, plot outline, flesh out characters and structure the entire end of the novel. My goal for the end of the Boot Camp is to have divided out scenes that I can easily sit down and write in one of those short sittings that I get during my average day of chasing around an almost-three-year-old. I’ve taken down the pictures in the dining room in preparation for the post-it tape timeline, colorful sticky notes, photos and sketches that I plan on adhering to every available surface. I shall dub it my War Room.
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;