Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Silly me. I looked at my two weeks off from my day job for the holidays as two solid weeks of writing time. Figured I'd have tons of time between the visiting, the cleaning for guests, the cheer and the fun. By this point I expected to be half-way done with a first draft for a new piece.

Yeah. And the North Pole's not melting, too.

I spent the first week throwing spaghetti at the wall.

What? You don't know that metaphor? Let me 'splain. No, that takes too long. Let me sum up: My mother read somewhere that, in order to tell whether the spaghetti was cooked enough or not, you could take a piece and throw it at the wall. If it stuck, it's ready. If it doesn't stick, it needs to cook longer. Behind our stove there was a scrubbed spot on the wall from where my mother always tossed the piece of spaghetti. It was fun watching her fling it and taking guesses as to whether it would stick or bounce or slide.

When I start stories, I'm always reminded of my mother flinging those strings of spaghetti at that spot on the wall. I start writing fast and furiously, letting the story form on the page, getting to know the characters, discovering their troubles and, in general, just immersing myself for a few minutes in their world. If everything goes along smoothly, I keep writing, not coming up for air until I'm well over a thousand words in. That's a story that's ready to be told. It's a keeper and will get written right away.

Sometimes, however, the spaghetti doesn't stick. I'll write a few hundred words (if I'm lucky) or a few thousand (if I get suckered) before the story dries up and either the characters stop talking or the plot won't reveal itself or I just get bored with it. I have files and files of these not-done story starts and whenever it's time to start a new book, I rifle through them to see if any of them are done yet. I'll pull up each file, write a little more on it and either a) keep going 'cause it's ready to be written or b) throw it back into the pot to simmer a little longer. New York Moment and Kara's Captain both took more than one throw at the wall before they stuck, same with Submission Revealed. So I've learned never to throw out any un-cooked piece of spaghetti -- sometimes the story just needs a little more time before it's ready to reveal itself.

So I've spent the entire week throwing spaghetti. Not until Monday did a piece stick and now I'm 2000 words into it and still going. I'm aiming for novella length with this one -- a bit darker than I usually write, though. Keep your fingers crossed and your eye on the spaghetti water!

Sidenote: you'll see I added Steve Duprey's blog to my blogroll -- be sure you check out his work if you haven't done so already. He's got another post up with a tribute to his sister that's incredible.

Play safe!

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