Monday, March 6, 2017

The quk broan foz jumpped....

Q: Have you ever stopped abruptly and taken up a different project and never gone back to the old one?

-from Susan

We’re talking about the craft of writing, so I’ll leave out the partially painted closet and my effort at needlepoint.

I can’t say “abruptly,” but I did give up on the very first attempt I made to write a crime fiction novel, long before I got serious and quit my day job to work hard at writing mysteries. Long before computers, in fact, which is why I threw up my hands. I’m a terrible typist and I like to see the writing on the screen or on paper as I go. No handwriting. In those ancient days of the Selectric typewriter, a typo or a poor word choice, or the need to move three lines of dialogue to a different position in the story meant re-typing the page or pages. This, to me, was a sisyphean nightmare, and after a few weeks of laborious effort, I found I was willing to overlook typos, poor word choices, and awkward dialogue. The story I was putting on paper, at 120 pages, was not the story I wanted to tell.

But…I didn’t throw out the manuscript and it sits, neglected certainly, in a file cabinet somewhere. Maybe some day I’ll find it and dare to look at it again, although I think its day has passed. It had two pretty good ideas, both now mainstream although they weren’t so much then: cyber crime, and a Latina woman in a police department where she wasn’t exactly welcome. Cyber crime is of an exponential magnitude of added sophistication now, and I’d have to find a contemporary Latina detective to find out what’s changed – and I hope that would be on an order of magnitude also – since the early 1980s.

The chances of finishing the closet walls are a lot greater than getting back into the old manuscript. Besides, I’m too busy with what is working for me now. Love & Death in Burgundy launches at Malice Domestic and the couple months after that are shaping up to be fun!


Dietrich Kalteis said...

I used to love the sound of the clacking typewriter, but I'm with you on all the retyping turning into a nightmare. My typed pages often ended up looking like ransom notes, and those chapters would be three times thicker due to all the taped on bits of paper. Oh, and then there was all that Wite-Out.

Danny Gardner said...

Perhaps some of the DNA in that Selectric-composed beginning lies in your subsequent finished works. I know they lie in your worldview. <3 Great post, Susan!