Monday, January 3, 2011

Putting The Ick Back In Gothic

You know how people always wish you a happy and healthy new year? Well, apparently the healthy part only extends so far. Because the last week of December (i.e. last week) my mother got a stomach virus, and then unselfishly gave it to me.

Not that I wish to complain (well, no more than normal), but two of the four pounds I lost from the virus have found their way back. The other two are no doubt hovering in the wings.

Up until last week, I'd been busily writing Hart, my working title for the book which I can't say I'm working on, because what I've been doing hardly constitutes work. I write whenever I feel like and whatever I feel like. I've written about 150 pages, but I've yet to write the beginning, the ending, and a certain amount of middle. Instead I write whatever brilliant idea for the book (if it can be called a book, seeing as it doesn't have a beginning)I've come up with that morning. And then whatever I put down that day requires me to rewrite things I've already written, since this is all being done in gleeful incoherence.

I've never written a book like this before and I can certainly understand why.

But between looking after my mother and looking after myself (Scooter fended for himself), I didn't do any writing or rewriting. Instead I pondered what I had written and asked myself, more than once, what the heck was I thinking.

I mean, I knew what I was thinking. I was thinking it was a lot of fun to write something that no one had any expectations of, not even me. Without a beginning (although I know what happens in the beginning) or ending (although I know what happens in the ending). It's been play writing, rather than work writing.

But when I write like that, I start to think there's no top I can't go over. Hart is kind of a gothic psychological romantic horror novel (if William S. Hart ever knew how I borrowed his name for this thing, he'd turn over in his grave, which would not be all that inappropriate), and when I write gothic psychological romantic horror novels (which I never have before), I tend to get a bit carried away. Or a lot carried away.

Then I tell myself it's fine to get carried away because there's no point writing an understated gothic psychological romantic horror novel. That would be like a kitten only being a little bit cute (an analogy Scooter just provided me with).

Still, I'm enough of a professional to know that no matter how much fun a gothic psychological romantic horror novel might be to write or even read, there ought to be some level of sanity to it. Let alone a beginning and an end.

So yesterday, I worked out an approach that allows me to keep much of what I've already written (albeit with polishing and rewriting and the suchlike) and tell the story I plan on telling but clearing out some of the excess. In honor of my insight I wrote out a new outline. The phrases that have little dashes after them indicate sections I've already written.

Now it's true I could be writing some more of Hart today instead of redecorating my blog (doesn't it look pretty), and maybe I will later. Tomorrow, I'm planning on seeing Black Swan (which should feed all my gothic psychological romantic horror instincts quite nicely) and Wednesday is being devoted to mother obligations. So I have a few days to rethink my rethoughts before writing (dare I even say it) the beginning of the book. Or cleaning my apartment.

Whichever seems less like work is much more likely to get done!


Abigail said...

i love love love the 'gothic, psychological romantic horror story' idea. i would sooooo buy that!!!
but your new blog layout i am not loving as much.
ps- the dead and the gone and revenge of the aztecs are my two favourite books by you!


Mr. Cavin said...

I'm agreeing with the first half of the comment above. You had me at "sacrifice in the wooods" back when it was still at number three. The eerie persistence of number seven's emptiness is also pretty intriguing. I am glad you are having a good time with this, but I sure hope I get to have a good time with it someday, too.

I am a little concerned about BLACK SWAN sort of derailing you, since it is certainly meta-existential body horror and not gothic romance at all--though the "psychological" part is still there somewhat. More De Palma than De Palma's best day (SISTERS?). I'd really love to see you write one of those, too. At any rate I hope you enjoy the movie as much as I did.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Abigail and Mr. Cavin-

Oh dear. Now I have to worry about the appearance of the blog and the nature of Black Swan. Then again, maybe I won't worry about either.

I like the new look for the blog. I especially like changing things around occasionally; it's good for me to have to remember if things are listed on the right side or the left side.

And I know Black Swan is going to scare me, t6y (Scooter7u is hanging by the keyboard in case you couldn't tell), but I love ballet and I like Natalie Portman, so I'll take my chances.

I woke up at 4 AM with a new idea for the book, which I must have dreamt. It will (of course) involve a lot of rewriting, but some of it in a direction I'd previously considered. And it will add a whole new level of psychological vulnerability to my poor beleagured heroine without adding too much more ick.

I love it!

Anonymous said...

Is your main character a fish?


Lexa said...

Holy crap. A "gothic psychological romantic horror novel"? Do you know how fantastic that sounds? And coming from you (aka one of my favorite authors)? I have no words to describe my excitement. I can only hope fervently that this will indeed become a fully fleshed out book (you know, beginning, middle, end, and in that order? :D) sometime in the near future so that I can read it.

Are you planning on making this into a real book or is it just going to be a never-to-be-published story? Because I think I read somewhere on your blog before that BLOOD WOUNDS is going to be your last book...? But I would sincerely hope not! This book sounds amazing.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning Glen (back to his anonymous roots) and Lexa-

I'm pleased to report all my characters are mammals, although on occasion some of them do eat fish.

And I'm also pleased to report that in my brain at least Hart is taking full shape. Of course there's a big difference between brain and paper, and an even bigger difference between paper and publication. So it remains to be seen what will become of it, but right now at least, I'm eager to get back to work.

And with more snow in the forecast for tomorrow, work might be the only activitiy available to me!

qwertyuiop said...

I am really liking the new blog layout. Gotta love clouds

I now sorta kinda really want to read this Hart book.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi qwertyuiop-

I think the blog looks very pretty. I would have gone with a moon design if I could have found one, but went with clouds as a pleasant alternative.

Jon, by the way, while not as distinctive as qwertyuiop is a good deal easier to type!