A fairly common piece of writing advice is to not talk about your novel while you’re writing it. I think that holds true when I’m in rough draft, because the unsolicited feedback that often comes when somebody feels they can improve upon your ideas can really psych writers out, or distract us into going in the wrong direction, which ultimately creates more work to correct, if we don’t give up out of frustration.
But that’s only in the beginning. After a point, it’s incredible how talking about your work can create more excitement for it. Yesterday, I was working out with my friend, and Laura asked the usual question: “What have you been doing since I saw you last.” My answer: “Writing.” That is most of what I’m doing right now.
2nd draft is a slower process because I focus on keeping the details straight, so there is a novel that is done at the end of this. A novel that needs a developmental edit, some rewrites, and polish, but still a finished novel - whereas the rough draft is a mess. Anyway, she asked me what the story was about, and I told her it’s a triad of love stories involving seduction, fascination, and rivalry. The Shepherd and the Courtesan are together to tell their stories of Ella Bandita, the predatory seductress who had abandoned both of them. The Shepherd has never gotten over her, and neither has the Courtesan. The Courtesan’s goal is to know for certain that Ella Bandita is dead. To entice the Shepherd to stay and swap stories with her, she tells him of her transformation from an ugly, embittered, hard-labor peasant named Addie to the glamorous and irresistible Courtesan known as Adrianna the Beautiful.
This is the 2nd novel in a series of 4. Ella Bandita is the central character, however she is not the main character in this particular novel, nor will she be in the 4th. In this one, Ella Bandita is a secondary character in the background, present only through dreams and memories in the stories the protagonists share with each other. Through sharing their stories and the time they spend together, the Shepherd and the Courtesan find a chance for redemption and healing, but only if they are willing to let go.
The appeal of this novel is discovering the labyrinth of life experiences that make a human being who they are. The Shepherd’s character is complex, but his solitary life is simple. His relationship with the Woman who would become known as Ella Bandita, Thief of Hearts, is the only unusual circumstance of his life. The Courtesan character is complex with an incredible life story, and at least half the pages in the novel are spent on who she is and how she came to be that way. I suppose this is excessive “backstory,” but I don’t care. Because it is that juicy and that good. It propels the story forward between the Shepherd and the Courtesan, so it’s staying.
As I told Laura more, especially because there will be plenty of sex scenes, Laura got excited and said she wanted to read it. Of course, her enthusiasm made me want to keep writing the book.
I needed that. This draft is excruciating became it tests me in an area where I’m weak – patience. So although I would have been unwise to talk about this in the early stages, I found the sweet spot of talking about my work at a moment when I needed some juice to keep writing.
Laura got me excited about a story that I was starting to feel jaded about. That would not have happened if I had not talked to her about it.
So yeah, you writers out there, give it a try so long as you’re not in rough draft.