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Monday, December 20, 2010

Time to Slay the White Whale

I'm feeling a little better about the project I'm planning to tackle in January.

It all started a few years ago. I belonged to a writing group that sent out daily prompts. In response to one of the prompts, I wrote a vignette. I liked the character, so I turned it into a short. I decided to send the short to a contest, and although it didn't win, the judges sent back a note saying, "If you ever turn this into a novel, we'd love to see it!" Needing no further encouragement, I turned it into a novel. I let it rest, then sat down to edit it. Halfway through, the inner critic stepped in.

"This is a fantasy novel. You're a horror writer. What do you know about fantasy? When's the last time you actually read a fantasy novel? I don't know why you're bothering to write this. Nobody's going to want a fantasy novel written by a horror writer."

The next thing you know, I was blocked. I didn't want to touch the novel. I didn't want to look at the novel. I didn't want to think about the novel. I came to whisper the title in the hushed tones usually reserved for words like "cancer" and "diarrhea." And then I became totally blocked and couldn't write anything else, likely from the guilt of abandoning the novel.

So that prompt that grew into a short that grew into a novel became my great white whale. Eventually, I started writing again. But I still didn't touch the novel.

That's all going to change next month. Next month, I'll begin revising and editing that novel again. To help keep my inner critic's mouth shut, I've been reading book after book in the fantasy genre, trying to see if there are important elements of the genre that I've left out of my novel. And guess what? There aren't.

My fears were unfounded. The fantasy genre spans a wide range of stories, from high fantasy (with dragons and elves and kingdoms) to what I call just plain old "imagining a different time," where the story could almost be a glance at history (think Clan of the Cave Bear). Some have a lot of "mysticism and myth," with lots of strange creatures, and some have very little.

My novel will fit in perfectly. It is another world, but most of the characters are decidedly human (some with magickal abilities). There are a few strange creatures and even some dragons. Not what they call, "high fantasy," but fantasy nonetheless.

So now I can tell my inner critic to shut the hell up. And by June (or the end of 2011 at the latest), I'll be done with revision and edits and ready to start searching for an agent for Macha Mong Ruadh.

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