When I started my current (second) novel, I was all momentum, all burning excitement. Twenty thousand words practically wrote themselves. I was on a downhill sled with the wind hitting my face so fast that it chapped my lips and watered my eyes, but damn was it fun.
That was mid 2013. After about 20k words, I put it on hold so I could focus on finishing my first book. Then I had to edit, and I wanted a break for a couple months to recharge, so I didn’t pick up the second novel again until mid 2014.
I got on my sled and did that thing sledders do where they push with their feet, scooting bit by awkward bit towards the precipice where gravity would then take over. But nothing happened. There was no hill, just flat ground. The words that came so easily before were stuck.
You are alone today.
And what an aloneness it is.
There is space when you are alone. Such roominess is uncommon for you. You feel compelled to test it, to savor it, so you stretch your arms out wide and wave them in propeller circles like that exercise in middle school gym class. All space. Space in your apartment, space in your head. You wave all the arms of your thoughts, hear the airy swish as they feel out their boundary-less quarters.
You can do things alone that you wouldn’t dare in front of others. Secret thrills.
Lately I’ve been hmm’ing and umm’ing over a couple key terms in the publishing world: Literary and Commercial. What are the differences? After some research, I think I’ve got a handle on what these terms mean, and thought I’d lay them out for anyone else who might be scratching their head.
A great article came out last year called “Social Contracts and the Cult of Likability” (link at the bottom), about readers who believe they have to like every trait and support every decision of a character in order to find a book “good.” What critics argue is that such a factor is totally irrelevant, that likability is too subjective, and even that likable characters are essentially flat.
I had a mixed response. On the one hand I agree that flawed, unpleasant, even downright horrible characters can be wonderfully compelling. All their cracks and fissures and festering pustules of imperfection can lead to fascinating analyses, or even camaraderie, if they bear flaws I have myself. I champion the characters that surprise and challenge, and it’s a laudable feat when someone can put me in the head of a villain and make me actually want to be there, not just run screaming. Though sometimes a good scream is nice too. Helps digestion, I’ve heard.