navigating the waters of poetry and fiction

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I must admit, I write from the poet in me first and foremost, and I’m so in love with poetry, that I don’t want to ever put that part of me aside.  Lyrical fiction has been the “answer” for me, after working for a long time between the genres of fiction and poetry and discovering that my voice pours out more naturally when I either write a poem OR a novel.

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This isn’t true for everyone, and I LOVE some of the cross-genre writings I’ve studied (anything by Bhanu Kapil, a friend and fellow AROHO 2011 women’s writing retreat presenter, who was also one of my advisors from Goddard College).  I’ve also read a lot by Carole Maso and Anne Carson.

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My first novel, Makara, was initially cross-genre, but through numerous edits, it became clear that lyrical fiction was the way that story needed to be told.

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Now, I’m working on yet another fiction project, and this time for Young Adults, and I’m working faster than my usual pace (Makara took 2 years of serious, full time writing, and then 4 years of submitting and small edits here and there).

I’ve started my newest novel only 15 days ago, and have written a total of 27,048 words (almost half the minimum length it will be upon completion).  For this book, I’ve been thinking through the entire plot every night while laying in bed, and all day while doing other things.

Within a few days of starting, I knew the “log line”, which is a one sentence description of the whole book.  This is essential for anyone writing a book-length work.  I’ve heard this from agents as well as fellow writers, and it’s why I haven’t been able to write a good-enough draft of my memoir-in-progress (because I still can’t figure out what that one sentence IS yet).

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I’d like to not discuss my current project’s plot yet, but I can say that figuring out the plot before really getting into the story was essential.

The book I wrote between this one and Makara was something I wrote day-by-day, without thinking about plot until a few drafts into it.  It took me one month to write a rough first draft of that one, one year off, then one and a half years of intense editing to get a “finished” draft (draft fifteen!).  But the market isn’t biting for that one, so, it’s going on the shelf for a while, and I am now conducting a writerly experiment with this current project:

HOW FAST can I write a GOOD WORKING DRAFT of a novel in a new genre?

Some smaller questions to consider would be:

Will it be fun, or hellish?

How much will it suck?

How much will my friends and family end up hating me for ignoring them for 4-6 weeks?

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Because it would be safe to say that this blog might otherwise get pushed aside in the coming weeks as I work hard to write an entire manuscript, I will use this blog to update on my progress.

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I’ll also be posting more on AROHO women’s writing retreats, which take place every two years at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.  I’m going for the second time this August, though I won’t be presenting this time, just attending, and soaking up all that amazing writer/artist energy at the ranch.

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Wishing everyone the best of luck in all of their creative endeavors.

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