Saturday 20 January 2018

Front and Back Burners - Joan Lennon

This time last year I was in the throes of wussiness.  The book (we'll call it Book A) I was writing demanded a character I really liked dying, and another character I really liked grieving.  The setting was bleak, and though the ending was positive, the road to get there was hard.  I was committed and eager to do this difficult story justice.  Twelve months later, is it told?  

Well, yes and no. 

Book A exists in Frankendraft form (the roughly-sewn-together version of a novel that - in my practice any way - exists before a full first draft).  And I'm still committed.  

Me and Book A (Wikipedia)

But over the last few months the eagerness has waned.  And the writing has slowed ... and slowed ... and stopped.  Okay, there was also Christmas and New Year and stuff, but those are done.  So, am I leaping back into this relationship?

Not so much.

I've started a new book - Book B - which is pacey and adventurous and nobody dies prematurely.  Am I unforgivably fickle?  Is this some kind of authorly serial monogamy?  Not even that.  I'm committed to BOTH books.  

This isn't goodbye, Book A.  I've shifted you to the back burner and the gas is on low, but I won't let you boil dry.  I will be back.  And then you will be back to the front ...

Meantime, Book B - let's turn up the heat!

Do any of the other authors out there have occasional lapses in fidelity too?  Tell all.  I, for one, won't judge.  


Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.
Walking Mountain.


Anne Booth said...

Yes. I am now back working on a book a) I was very keen on. In between writing its first draft it I have written b, c, d, e and f (though they are all for different age groups). I didn't have a publisher for book a and did have for b, c and d, but e and f came after a) and got publishers quickly (though are NYP) and a) is still to be published, though now does have a publisher. So I completely understand this!! It's definitely tricky...

Claire Fayers said...

Yes. My first published book came from a draft I'd long abandoned to the back burner, then I dug it out because I needed a break from another project and fell in love with it again. I have several things sitting half-finished at the moment. I'll finish the first draft of the main one in another week or so and I'm still deciding which one to tackle next.

Susan Price said...

Relax, Joan. I think your condition is common. Certainly, for most of my writing life, I've had -- and on occasion, three -- books in harness at any one time.

When I hit a difficult plot tangle in Book A, I would put it aside and start Book B. (Because I'd learned that trying to untangle plot snarls by thinking about them only snarled them up more.) When Book B got hard, I'd suddenly know how to deal with the problems of Book A, and go back to it. Or start Book C -- or write a short story.

I bet you find, after you've been concentrating on the new book so hard that you haven't given the first one a thought -- suddenly, out of nowhere, you'll know how to handle those difficult death and grieving scenes.

Sue Purkiss said...

Good luck with both A and B!

Joan Lennon said...

Reassuring comments - thanks!