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So I've finally decided to jump off the cliff and write a novel.

That sentence will have one of many reactions, depending on the person:

1) The most common reaction: absolutely nothing, because most people won't read this blog post so they won't be aware of this momentous (for me) decision.
2) A modest shrug of approval to themselves followed up by the immediate forgetting that this is taking place.
3) "Why the hell are you telling us about this?" said to self, and sometimes coupled with the thought of "instead of actually just writing the damned thing."
4) Encouragement and support by well-meaning, kind-hearted people who will probably forget about it immediately upon reading this post or seeing this headline on the many social media venues where this will appear. This person's reaction will be along the lines of, "Oh, that's great. I'm sure he'll tell us about it when it's done."
5) And the least common reaction from people: a barrage of questions not limited to, but including, the following: "What's it going to be about?", "When will it be finished?", "How long is it going to be?", "It's going to take you HOW long?", "I think you should write a book about..."

But, yes, I have decided to write a novel. For those who know me, this is a huge deal. The idea of writing a novel scares the living hell out of me.  I am not what most would call attention sufficient. (It has taken me about an hour and a half to write this far due to various distractions which, were I to list them, would make this post longer than our tax code.) I've always written short stories and over the years have focused more and more on shorter structures, perhaps due to the aforementioned lack of attention sufficiency.


On top of the usual doubts that accompany the process of writing, I have decided this will be historical fiction. Which just increases the amount of doubts to a near crippling level: Do you conduct the research first and then start writing? Or do I start writing and then conduct research to fill in those details I am unsure of? Which voice/character starts the story? How much research is too much research? (And when will I be conducting research as a means of procrastination, instead of just writing the damned thing?); what if, after 200 pages, you realize you need to rewrite the entire book or the scene on page 250 is actually how you need to open the book, thus forcing you to rearrange the entire structure; or you realize you need to change the point of view from third to first person? With a short story, these issues are easier to handle: thirty pages is much more manageable to rearrange and cannibalize than three to four hundred.

"Why would you do this if you know it's going to cause this much torment?"  Good question, hypothetical reader.

Over the past few years I have jumped off many proverbial cliffs in terms of pursuing life goals that for various reasons--none of which were any good--I decided to avoid for years and years and years and... well, you get the point. Since I was in the process of tearing down my own self-constructed scaffolding, I figured I would just jump at the next obstacle, the next goal, and deal with the fear and prospect of failure later. That was writing this book, the idea for which has been bouncing around my head for almost six years now.

So for the next few years be prepared to be bombarded with blog entries about historical research, the frustrations of writing, and Cambodia. And the occasional writing-induced outburst.

As always, thank you.



 


10/25/2012 13:49

I can relate to your fears and your attention issues. I look forward to hearing how the process goes for you.

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10/26/2012 09:47

Thanks, Suzi. I'm looking forward to the research, but the idea of a novel still scares the bejeezus out of me. I guess there's only one way to find out.

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KSG
10/25/2012 14:48

I like historical research. It helps quite a bit (at least for me) to be able to visit your site, so I hope you get that opportunity. Research as much as you can before hand, then when you think you know everything there is to know, be prepared to learn five times as much about it. Have fun!

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10/26/2012 09:50

Thanks, KSG!
I've been debating the idea of visiting the site(s) in question. I hope I get the opportunity as well. I'm excited about the research. Thanks for the advice.

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10/25/2012 20:16

Cambodia intrigues me, my friend. More of a teaser on that, please. I once wrote a political science paper on the Khmer Rouge/Year Zero (the Pol Pot bit) and was fascinated after doing the research. Since you mentioned this will be historical, I'm wondering ... So?

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10/26/2012 09:58

Thanks, Charlie! The Khmer Rouge period fascinates (and angers) me, too. I've been planning future posts about this period as I learn more, but that's all still in the planning stages.
And since you've written that paper, it sounds like I could use your help at some point.

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