Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cleansing My Mental Palate

Once upon a time, at fancy dinner parties, the hostess used to serve small cups of sherbet between the dinner courses in order to help her guests cleanse their palates so they could have their taste buds start fresh with the next course. That way there would be no taste of fish still clinging to their tongues as they began on the beef course. Or something like that.

Anyway, I've decided to adopt that strategy to my writing for the next month or two. I'm putting aside NIGHTSHADE for a short while so I can cleanse my palate and start fresh when I pick it up again. It has too many vestigial tales clinging to it from earlier versions and incarnations.

Instead, I'm going to work on a shorter project called THE AMAZING DINWIDDIE. And I can't tell you if it's going to be a chapter book or a short middle grade or even a regular length middle grade, because that's part of the exercise. I'm going to force myself to write this book without knowing any of that stuff. I'm going to shut out all those clamoring editors on my shoulders and just write, for gawd's sakes.

Now I realize that between being a shorter book and much less edgy and dark, there will be far fewer restrictions my internal editors will be trying to place on me. But that's why this is such a perfect place to start. You have to lift ten pounds before you can lift fifty. So this is my ten pound book.

Another thing I'm going to try that I haven't done for a long time is to write my daily quota, then walk away from the mss for the day. Not fiddle with it and plot it out ad nauseum. I want to see how that changes things.

Because that's the thing about writing: each book is different, and for me at least, the process is constantly changing and evolving in order to produce the best book I'm capable of. Or, you know, work around my personal demons. Same thing, in the end.