Writing Is a Fickle Business

posted in: Creative | 2
Tundra
Me (pretending that it’s my truck), on the Dempster Highway, near the Arctic Circle, Yukon Territory, Canada. Circa 1988

After two agonizing weeks of editing the first draft of my latest novel, Naked Under the Midnight Sun (working title), I am happy to announce that I have crossed through the muddy trenches and am finally in the sunshine stage of enjoying the editing.

I unearthed an old first draft of a novel I wrote nearly a decade ago. It is the sequel to Queen of the Godforsaken. I wrote it immediately after I wrote my first draft of Queen… Then, I went to work editing Queen…and left its sequel buried until now.

The exciting news that Queen of the Godforsaken will be published in 2015 by Thistledown Press inspired me to get its sequel ready to go. Naked Under the Midnight Sun (working title) is inspired by the summer I spent working at a hotel near the Arctic Circle in northern Yukon. The novel is fiction; though, like all my young adult and adult novels to date, it is fiction that is inspired by actual events.

Tundra 1
Me, sitting on the fragile tundra, tamarack and black spruce trees in distance. Ogilvie Mountains, Yukon. 1988

My fist draft of the novel is bare bones. I spilled my guts in a fury of memories and facts that were important to me. It’s basically nothing more that a very detailed outline of specific characters and events. Thus, the first few edits are agonizing—there isn’t a lot to work with. I spent the last few weeks hating the first draft of Naked Under the Midnight Sun—thinking, this is crap, the magic in me as a story teller has died. I have no inspiration to give this next work.

As a painter and writer, I have experienced project doubt many times before. The only way to deal with uninspired mud is to wade through it, day after day, until I find a small glimmer of inspiration in the work. I give it my full attention: I write no less than several hours a day, no matter how much I dislike what I am working on. After a  week or two, I will either cross over to being inspired by the work and loving little bits of it or I will realize it is time to say goodbye, take what I’ve learned and move on. Though, I almost never say goodbye (especially to an entire first draft of a novel) and seem to find inspirational bits in every project.

It helps if I believe that I have a story worth telling. In the case of Naked…,my adventures in the Arctic were unconventional and extreme. The summer challenged every ounce of my being, mentally and physically. It is a miracle that I survived that summer. I’ve used my Arctic experiences as inspiration for the story of Naked Under the Midnight Sun.

Tundra 2
Me, hitching a ride on an 18 wheeler to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, . I’m on a ferry crossing the mighty Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories, Canada 1988.

Writing is a fickle business. In my experience, perseverance and faith (bordering on delusion) are the only qualities that actually get the job done. That’s always my goal—to simply finish the manuscript. Anything else is golden.

Researching and writing about the Yukon, after so many years away, has brought back a flood of memories. I long to go back, cycle the Dempster Highway from Dawson City to Inuvik, NWT and experience the amazing Arctic summer once again.

2 Responses

  1. ritch
    | Reply

    cool! (i know a good editor if you need one…)

  2. Mix Hart
    | Reply

    Thanks Ritch. I know the one you have in mind. He is very talented.

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