Works in Progress

This post was meant to appear yesterday and I don’t know why it didn’t!!

I am going to/already attending/returning from a funeral/memorial service in Minnesota for Ali Meyerhofer so I don’t have time to write more about Mary Orr Evershed at this moment. I will say about the book that George sent, that I’m glad I read it even though it has some interesting flaws.

I had a pointed conversation last night/several nights ago about my fiction writing so I’m going to list the books currently in my head. The WIP as some people say (Works in Progress!).

Chronologically first, is a story I invented in 1986 about a girl who goes out to watch Halley’s Comet (a paragraph’s worth) and all the other stuff that happens to her. She is a geologist turned church secretary and finds an old diary written old German and wonders why a church named Holy Family doesn’t have a statue of, you know, the Holy Family. There’s a, more or less, meditation about John the Baptist also included. 

BUT this work, of which I found a **typed** (typed!!) copy and started transcribing, in its current form, is hopeless. I knew nothing about writing when I put it down on paper. It is all telling, not showing. I don’t know if it is fixable but people say that you need to write about a million words before you will really understand what you are doing so trying to fix it might just count that way. 

Next, I read a blog written by a shepherdess and was attacked by a story about a shepherdess as a result. The blogger gave me permission to use anything in her blog and the result is Jessamyn. You can read part of her story in the archives of this blog. Jessamyn has been stuck in the hayloft on the sheep farm, in the middle of a dark and stormy night, 😉  for several years though I’m slowly figuring out how to get her down. 

One reason she got stuck is that I was reading various kinds of writing advice and one piece was to put your protagonist into the worst situation you can imagine for her. So I did that to Jessamyn and all progress stopped. (It wasn’t the hayloft but something else she would have to deal with.) Recently I went out to lunch with a writing mentor and discussed this. She promptly said, that if writing progress stopped I should change what I wrote. If I don’t want my heroine to suffer like that then that’s just not the kind of book I write. I took her advice to heart. I even saw how to make the situation I had invented work in a very different way but I haven’t had time to finish writing the scene that gets Jessamyn down. 

I also tried NaNoWriMo twice, (2018? and 2019?) and the second time, instead of finishing Jessamyn I started a whole new plot. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an internet challenge to write fifty thousand words in a month, specifically in November. The first time I got some words down. The second time I had done some reading and people had pointed out that more gets done with a little prep work. So I started in late October and invented a Catholic school, name, teachers, layout, traditions, whatnot. Then I started writing and got to about thirty thousand words. 

At that point I realized that, though I had what I thought of as an ingenious murder, and a second murder deriving from the first, and though I could guess how to reveal the murderer, I simply didn’t have a good reason for the whole thing to happen. That is to say, I had a reason but nobody liked it. I also realized that behind this first book there was a whole second book or secondary plot or something. Last night I began to wonder if it’s really all one book because the second book does have some useful ideas about why you would murder. 

Then, when I went to North Carolina to visit my godchild there was a whole discussion about writing a murder mystery set in New Hampshire and featuring real estate and family trusts. I did some research on that idea and was making some sort of progress when Dante attacked me and I wrote that book instead. 

The book I finish is undoubtedly the book I should have been writing. But the question of what I should be writing now is still there. I can think of two non-fiction books that I might be capable of writing and that might be useful. But neither is just gripping me by the throat.

And I would love to write some kid books. Volcanoes! Elisha! Weather! Saint Peter and his bones!

Say a prayer for the Meyerhofers if you are so inclined. 

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