Trunking a Novel

My next writing project – Far Reach – has just been trunked. By that, I mean that I won’t be working on it for a while.

For those not familiar with the term, Trunk Novels fall into two categories:

1. One that should never, ever be seen again.
2. One that needs time for either the story or the author to grow.

In the first case, sometimes the novel is forgotten forever. Maybe it just doesn’t work or the story falls apart or something else happens that invalidates the story. Sometimes parts of it are picked out and used in other, better stories. It all depends on the author. I believe Brandon Sanderson did that with one of his Mistborn books, merging several novels into one.

Far Reach falls into the second. It was supposed to be a more futuristic novel, a world in which Earth has barely survived an alien invasion and is seeking to get back into space before the aliens return for round two. There was a lot good in FR but as I plotted out the story, I discovered that it wasn’t going to be constrained to one novel. It was going to be a trilogy, at least.

Writing a standalone novel is difficult enough. Ask any writer. Stringing a singular story over three? At this point in my writing career, I don’t feel like I have the skills to do that.

Asymonte (my first book) has been trunked for almost six years now. It’s meant to be part of a six-book series and that’s not just six times the work of writing a single book. It’s more like 20 or 30. It’s a challenge. I will get back to it but only when I’m ready to give it the care it really deserves. (Sorry, Steph!)

There is no real shame in this. Many authors have done it. Stephen King, for example, released in 2007 the book Blaze. That was trunk novel started in 1973 – 34 years prior to publication.

Of course, I’m not going to stop writing. Heck no. I’ve already got another project in mind (tentatively titled Favors). The plotting is going good and it looks like it’ll be around a 90,000 word standalone book.

Which is good. I need a few of those under my belt before I tackle the big boys.

Harry and the Hughes

Steph went out for an 8 mile run this morning and came back with a dog – Harry.

This is Harry

He followed her for 4 miles and was extremely friendly.  His owners informed us that he loves bikers and runners and is practically an honorary member of the Luther Cross Country team.

I’m about ready to head out for a 17 mile run.  I’m aiming a bit higher than a dog – maybe a horse.

Write Interesting @#$!

This (re)tweet came across from my good friend Miranda from Viable Paradise.  It reminded me of a little story…

One of my friends is best selling crime author Donald Harstad (Eleven Days, Known Dead, and Code 61 among others).  Don is a former Sheriff’s deputy from just south of Decorah and his stories all take place in the Midwest.  They’re quite gripping and have earned him a number of accolades.  He’s also a lot of fun to just to chat with and is a great guy.

Some years ago, I attended a book reading Don gave at the local library and he told a story about writers.  It goes a bit like this …

Don was invited to teach at a writing workshop out East.  The focus was on Mystery and Crime and one of the other teachers was a rather famous author, someone big in the genre (afraid I don’t recall his name).  In any case, at one point the students were asked to spend 20 minutes writing a short piece.   As the students started writing, Don, seated next to Famous Author, mentioned that he had hated critiquing these sort of exercises.

Famous Author waved a hand and said, “Here’s a tip.  See that one?” and pointed at a student who was writing furiously.  It was continuous without a pause.  “That will be shit.  Now look at that one.”

This next student would write furiously for a few moments, then stop and stare up at the ceiling or tap his pen against his cheek.  Then he’s start writing again.  After a few lines, the process would repeat itself.

Famous Author said, “That too shall be shit, but it will be interesting shit.”

Don now has a plaque above his writing desk that says:

Strive to Write Interesting Shit

A Good Sunday

This has been a good day.

Woke up this morning and drove up to Lanesboro, MN where Steph and I hopped on our bikes and followed the Root River State Trail all the way to Rushford.  That’s a mere 19 miles away.  When we got there, we turned around and headed back.  Total distance ridden – 38 miles in 3 hrs, 23 minutes.

Once back in Lanesboro, we had a delicious lunch at the Pedal Pusher Cafe, one of our favorite restaurants in the area.  Really should go there more often.

Believe it or not, we did have a purpose for this aside from our usual demented nature.  I’m one of the organizers for a 150km Relay Race for Luther’s Sesquicentennial celebration and a portion of the course follows the route we biked today.  We had to scope out exchange points and anything else worthy of note.  One of those notes was a very friendly dog that ran with us for 9 miles, outpacing us for the entire time (and we were doing 5 minute miles) until his owner met him at the next town.

Back home in Decorah, there was no rest for the weary as I changed and headed out to play 2.5 hours of Ultimate Frisbee. I played Ultimate a great deal as a kid and only this past year discovered that there is an ‘open’ league that plays games every Sunday.  It attracts all sorts of people – good, bad, young, old – and the focus is on fun.  So I fit in great.  I call it my social event of the week.

After Ultimate, Steph and I ate dinner before heading down to the bowling alley.  We’re in a league with a handful of other couples (and Steph’s parents).  Level of play varies from good to lousy.  I fit in the lousy category today  but last week I set a high score (174) and followed that up with a 100.  Whoops.  It’s all fun though since everybody cheers for everyone else.

And now you know why I call it a good day.  Now it’s time for bed.  Night night.

Posting with Guusto!

Apologies for lack of updates but there simply hasn’t been much to write about as of late.   April is that time of year where work is busy, the writing is progressing along, and the weather is not quite perfect but showing glimmers of promise.

But that all changes today.  Today, I post with Guusto!

And here it is …

What? Really?

Okay, … I’ve just been informed this is not Guusto.  This is in fact Juusto.  There’s a subtle, but very important difference here.  Guusto is made with Goat’s milk (hence the G).  Juusto is made with Cow’s milk (hence the … J, I guess).  In either case, it’s considered a bread cheese and baked in the oven.

And more important, it’s freakin’ delicious when lightly pan fried.

Revision: Words vs Scenes

While across the pond, I purposely did not do any writing.  Why?  Well, it was vacation and writing is work.  Sheesh.  Beside that, I needed to reflect on some ideas I had and all the stuff I learned at the Maass workshop.  I jotted down some stuff but mostly I let it percolate in my brain.  I think all writers will agree that sometimes being away from your writing is about the best thing for it.

Now that we’re back and on Central Standard Time again, it’s time to start working so I’ve started on the 5th draft of Genie Memories (hereafter referred to as GM).

At this point in the revision process, I’m discovering that counting words written is not an accurate measure of how much progress I’ve been making.  It’s also extremely hard to keep track of.  I’m cutting, shifting, adding, and manipulating the story in so many ways that it’s practically impossible to quantify just how I’ve spent those two hours in my office.

So I made the decision that I am not going to bother with word count and instead keep track fo Scenes.  Some of these will be short, some will be long.  The important thing is that it is a complete scene and I get it revised/written.   My goal right now is 2 per day and I’ve been doing pretty good at that.  On Saturday I completed four, Sunday three, and yesterday I managed to grind out two (work did get in the way).

And speaking of counting words, SWFA has an article called What Is A Word?  It’s short article about how what our word processor claims as word count differs from that of the world of publishing.  Anexample:

"I'm pregnant," he said.
"What?"

Microsoft Word claims that as 5 words.  An editor would see that as 25 since it takes up two full lines of text.  The aforementioned article gives an alternative means of counting words so I ran it against GM.  It told me GM was 74,000 words vs Word’s count of 64,000.

Big difference.  Not sure what to make of that but I’ll have to dig into it further when it comes time to start submitting to agents and publishers.