Twice I have written the second novel in a series. The second Finny Aletter book, Obstacle Course, was a creature from hell to write for several reasons, primary among them that I was still a novice writer and was flung about like feathers in a fan factory. A Signal Shown, the second Wisdom Court book, was simultaneously the most difficult and most personal book I’ve ever written. One of the characters in it died of Alzheimer’s Disease, as did my mother. Enough said.
Now I am swinging a machete through the jungle of the third Wisdom Court book, All In Bad Time. While I have had glorious moments of communion with my characters, I also have a yard sale’s worth of details from the two previous books to braid along with the new and improved elements of this one. My haunted house is filled with wonderful women who have back stories, dreams and ambitions, complaints and attitude. They’ve also dropped a shitload of info along the way. I have a large flow chart (thanks again, Christine Jorgensen) but I’m staggering about, tripping over plot devices. Sacre dieu! (I say this as I shake my fist at the sky. French classes up frustration and the garret could use some class.)
But today a couple of different questions occurred to me: Is my brain big enough for this? Why has my concentration span shrunk to the size of a rare Rumanian stamp?
These are philosophical questions and don’t belong in a rant about writing. But…some legitimacy lies in asking them. Brain size is an important issue and I modestly point out that I have written a bunch of words, some of them arranged into novels. The arranging itself required a great deal of concentration. Thus past history would indicate both sufficient brain size and adequate attention span.
So why am I sprawled on the jungle path? Could it be the huge, crouching plot element that keeps tripping me? The one I keep hacking at with my dulling machete? Possibly. Do I long to succumb to the lures of gardening if it would, for just one day, stop raining? (Sacre dieu!) More than likely. Have large earth-moving machines and leaf blowers been singing the Hallelujah Chorus outside my window everyday for at least two weeks, accompanied by the whine of radial saws at the construction site down the block? Definitely. Do I have control over any of these things except the hulking plot element? In a word, no.
I have come to a conclusion. I must befriend my gargantuan plot element. I must love and care for it. Then, when I’ve lulled it into a false sense of security, I will gently prune its more irritating branches, enabling it to fit snugly into the existing–SQUIRREL!