Notes on a New Novel

Last night, after an evening working on my next novel, I went to bed around 11. For nearly three hours after that, my brain was still whirring with ideas. Every few minutes I had to reach for my phone (my modern-day flashlight), grab my notebook and pen, and jot down new (and brilliant) ideas.

I’ve learned from experience that the spectacular ideas I have in the middle of the night both (1) are not always as spectacular in the morning, and (2) won’t be there in the morning at all if I don’t write them down. I’ve tried repeating them over and over to myself by way of remembering. I’ve tried convincing myself that the idea is so obvious, of course I’ll remember it.

Neither of these works. So, much as I love sleep and want nothing more than to snuggle down for a delicious eight hours, I now know that if I have a good idea (or at least what seems like a good idea at the time), I’d better write it down. Writing is hard work. There’s no point in making it harder by not recording the inspirations when they come to me.

This novel I’m working on now is a complete departure in genre from what I’ve written before (general contemporary fiction and travelogues). And I’m nervous. I’m having more fun writing it than any other book I’ve written, but at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only person on the planet who will like the book when it’s done.

I’m not quite sure what hole to pigeon the new book into, but for now we’ll call it adventure. It takes place on Dogwinkle Island – the same island where all the Wishing Rock books are set. Why? Well, I suppose because I created Dogwinkle, and I love it dearly. I needed a setting for the new book; where better to place it than an island that is completely mine to create and manipulate however I like?

Some of the characters from the Wishing Rock series make an appearance in the new novel, too. Cameos, more or less, but I love the characters dearly and wanted to let them know I haven’t forgotten them. There may be more proper Wishing Rock books again in the future, but for now, some of these characters get to live on in this new novel.

I was trying to think how to describe this adventure book in a way that would give readers an idea of what to expect. For a while I was stuck on “Dogwinkle meets Doctor Who,” which sounds fantastic but really is more misleading than descriptive. On the other hand, it gives you an idea of the general direction I’m going in.

As I said, this book is incredibly fun to write. As you may have guessed by now, part of the reason for that is that it’s not bound by reality like my other books have been. In this new novel (which isn’t even close to having anything resembling a title yet; hopefully something will come to mind eventually!!), everything is possible. And therefore, anything and everything can and does happen. Whatever I want to exist or be possible, can exist or be possible. Which is so entertaining and gratifying as an author.

The question that plagues, me, though: Will it be entertaining for the reader, too? Will my loyal readers enjoy this book; will new readers join in? I don’t know. As much as I love this book, I don’t know if this is the kind of book anyone else will want to read. Is it too juvenile? Too pedestrian? Too cliché? Will I alienate the audience I’ve worked hard to build? Will anyone read it, anyone at all?

Regardless, as I write this book, I know I would want to read it, and I suppose that in the end, what I’ve learned is the best course of action is to write the books I want to read. None of us is an island. (See what I did there? Dogwinkle Island – none of us is an island? Get it? Next stop: a book of humor essays!) What one person likes, others are bound to like, too. The trick is finding those people, and then inviting them along for the ride.

At any rate, this novel is still in its beginning stages. Right now I’m working on the plot and structure; then I’ll go fill in all the details. I’m a bit amazed at how this novel is bringing itself together. Sometimes it feels like it’s writing itself, revealing itself to me more quickly than anything else I’ve written. That’s a good thing, because in some ways I feel like I’m too busy to write these days. If the book wants to write itself, I won’t ask questions.

Fast as the book is coming together, though, there’s still so very much work to be done. I’m hoping to have this book published by the end of 2014. We’ll see. Stay tuned!

P.S. March 9 is National Wishing Rock Day – and on that day, I’ll be announcing a contest to win a copy of my new book (print or ebook in U.S., ebook elsewhere due to shipping costs). HOWEVER, I’ll only be announcing the rules via my mailing list, so be sure to sign up now!

One thought on “Notes on a New Novel”

  1. Pam, wonderful blog. I don’t know the answer to your questions, but I do know once we have something on our hearts we have to follow it as long as we can. Down the line you will know in your heart whether the new venture is the right one, or whether it needs to be adjusted; but for now, ride that wave, see where it takes you, and happy journey to you!

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