Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing — Benjamin Franklin
Turns out the short story I finished a couple of weeks ago is worth turning into a novel. This is what my writing mentor pointed out after reading it last week. He loves the story. Thinks it’s great. He did mention it was a little too long to be short story and probably too much good material to trim down without hurting it. I’m not surprised.
In my previous attempts to write a short story, I tended to write a little too long but the content was such that it couldn’t be edited down to a manageable length without fucking up the story. I had not made a real attempt until now to try again. However, I did write something that gave it a short story feel for my mentor. But, it wasn’t a short story. It was a scene for a future novel. Clearly, that novel is going to have to sit on the back burner again. Or I figure out how to juggle two novels (where the themes are quite different even though there may be shared characteristics) at the same time.
Anyway, because my mentor once thought I had written a short story when it really wasn’t, I figured maybe I could consciously try writing a short story again. So much for that idea. I didn’t quite succeed, again. But it wasn’t wasted effort. Writer Colum McCann described the short story as an imploding universe whereas a novel had shrapnel going all over the place. It seems my long short story has plenty of shrapnel flying off its pages, and I haven’t really spent all the artillery yet. There is plenty sitting in the reserves. So, after a couple of email exchanges with my mentor, I have another novel to work on.
In the grand scheme of things, I did say I wasn’t done playing with the two main characters. Although for some reason, the concept of a novel never popped into my head until the suggestion was made to me. Maybe I was a little too focussed to seriously consider it.
My two characters are pleased as punch that they get to play with a lot more pages. And the sandbox has magically become bigger yet again because I see there is a shack sitting in one corner of the sandbox. There’s a nice little fire pit, too. I’m sure a hammock will make an appearance in the next day or two. Clearly, they’re settling in for the long haul.
I’m not sure if you can tell that I’m thrilled to be turning the short story into a novel. Just to reiterate… I am thrilled. I always knew they were too big to contain within the parameters of a short story. I don’t even know why I tried. Now that the game has changed, there is research to do. There are four books to read and two films to watch. I’m sure the research list could become longer or more specific. One would not regard the four books as summer reading material. I anticipate that even though the subject matter is intense, going through the material shouldn’t be nightmarish.
I’m chomping at the bit to getting going with the reading since the material won’t be arriving at my door until later this week. For now, I’ll be determining what additional scenes I will need for the novel based on what I’ve written so far. Most of the scenes I’ve already written will be given the chance to ‘breathe’ and come into their own. There are other ‘bigger picture’ themes and concepts I have to write down on paper and formalize in my mind. Let’s call it my mission statement for this novel. They’re sitting in my head already so it should be painless putting it into words. Just like the second ‘work-in-progress’ novel, the writing process for this novel is completely different compared to The Raven Sonata. It’s evolving again. And it feels right.
I always thought turning one story idea into a novel you could hold in your hands was one hell of an achievement. And it was. It is. But coming up with a second story idea for a novel seems to be a nerve-wracking prospect until your brain cells rub up against each other and come up with something interesting. Quite honestly, I was excited I came up with a second idea for a novel. But the short story idea elbowed its way into my head giving me no other choice to follow it. I figured I would return to the second novel after writing the short story.
That was the intention until my two boys proved to be too hot to handle in a short story format. Working on a third novel wasn’t something I had imagined I would be doing. It was an accident. I just wanted to put my focus back on book #2. Oh well. This is starting to look like book #2 and book #3 will be swapping places in terms of which one becomes the next published novel. Right now, the hot hand goes to the boys. I gotta stick with them because they won’t leave me alone and I can’t stop thinking about them or their story.
We’re obsessed with each other. But in a good way.