On Monday’s Nasty Little Beast post, I mentioned my snarky bout of professional envy (“PE” for short) relating to Chelsea Cain’s success. I went to her talk wondering if the ten-buck nonmember fee would be worth it.
After Ms. Cain’s talk about her ten surefire tips for writing a thriller, my friend M– and I strolled down 10th Avenue with a chill wind at our backs. I admitted to my petty bout of PE. However, I also realized that I no longer felt the PE. Instead I was thinking, Good for Ms. Cain for writing where the writing led. Sometimes it takes guts to do what we want.
M– and I wondered aloud whether we could write a cheesy thriller such as Ms. Cain described. I’m not so sure for myself. In part because some of the tips felt depressingly formulaic. End each chapter on a cliffhanger, for example (tip #2). (Think The DaVinci Code.)
The tip that resonated the most with me was her last of the evening: Value your writing (tip #18!). I told M– that I probably didn’t value my writing enough, and he said, You’re right; you don’t.
Here’s the entirety of Ms. Cain’s last tip: Value your writing; it’s worth millions. With that in mind, the next morning I woke up ready to write that day’s new chapter. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to enter the scene. What the hell, I decided, I’ll make use of one of Ms. Cain’s tips. So, I opened the chapter with a physical action (tip #4), all the while reminding myself of tip #10: Put it in; you can always take it out later.
Does this make me a fledgling thriller writer? Nah, but my character’s hand signal toward her soon-to-be amore’s dog got me off and running for the day’s writing. Thanks, Ms. Cain, the ten-buck nonmember fee was worth it.
I should be writing today’s allotment of novel pages by now, but I’ve decided to test this blog, my fledgling effort. In truth, I’m procrastinating, which is silly because I know exactly what needs to happen in the current scene.
The scene takes place in a fictional village in County Clare, Ireland. It will be a scene of conflict, but since fiction is all about conflict, that statement says nothing. I love writing about internal conflicts, characters who are wounded and flawed and trying to get by. However, the scene I’m about to write is a good old-fashioned verbal confrontation between two strong-willed men. That one of these men is dying and the other not telling the whole truth should make the scene fun to write. So why am I procrastinating?
(Because I can, I suppose. I have all day to get my five daily pages out of my head and into the computer.)
I live in a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. The master bedroom is my office because it faces south, not that that matters this morning. It’s misty outside, kind of romantic like I remember from my childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area. The quaking aspen aren’t quaking, but their branches loaded with gold leaves shiver as squirrels go about their autumnal business. The leaves are waiting for a good breeze to set them flurrying all at once. It’s quiet out there with everyone at work.
I look out the window a lot, but then I’ve been doing that since I was kid. I sometimes wonder if dreaminess is one of the prerequisites to being a writer, and a novelist in particular.
It may be quiet on my street, but it’s growing increasingly loud in my head. The confrontation wants to get written.
Welcome to my blog. I might use it as a procrastination device all too often.