Writer's Angst

April 7, 2009

It's been a rough day. I've spent most of the day unnaturally tired and trapped within a numb mind. I failed to add a single word to my novel. My dear husband is snoozing away next to me, reminding me of just how tired I am, and I've started this darn blog over three times in the past half hour.

I keep thinking about this chapter I wrote in my novel yesterday. I haven't decided yet if it is good or not. Basically, the story goes like this: a black man has been caring for his mentally disabled cousin for most of his life, until said cousin is wrongly accused of murder. The cousin is sent away to an asylum, where he is mistreated by the staff. The town's white sheriff, who is the black man's best friend, arranges to bring his cousin home until a new place can be found for him. In the meantime, the the town's old KKK rises up in protest and does something terrible. The black man then decides to leave town, but will abandon his cousin in the process. His only solution: he must kill his cousin.

I wrote this whole scene where the man walks into his cousin's room, kneels in front of where he is sitting, and holds the gun to his temple. The idea for this chapter just came to me out of nowhere, and it seemed somehow poignant and necessary to the novel's progress. The problem is, the description is very, very simplified. The question isn't where or how I should beef it up, it's whether I should. In spite of everything going on in my brain, all I can focus on is this scene. Maybe I should just sleep on it for tonight.


Sherherazad7209 said...

Just a thought...reading the synopsis of your novel brought to mind John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Also, I noticed you are currently reading The Grapes of Wrath. I'm an amateur, here, so bear with me...I don't presume to be anything other than a person who reads a great deal and writes at a novice level, primarily for private self-expression/contemplation. So, I am probably telling you things you already know. Isn't it a common practice for a writer to consult other writers' material when they are struggling with an issue in their work? Not for plagarising, obviously, but for inspiration or direction, either with style, plot, character,etc.,. As a reference to this practice, I read about a woman author/writer, I cannot recall her name, who had something I would only know to call a "literary enclave" sometime in the mid-20th century. Every summer she had aspiring writers come and live at her home-she was very selective; they had to be invited or send her a letter that was extremely impressive. Anyways, one of the first things she had her students do was sit at typewriters all day literally typing a copy of someone else's book. (Authors she approved of, I imagine). Her premise was that if you get used to processing good writing, even in a sort of clerical manner, that some of it will stick when the novice starts putting his own thoughts/ideas onto paper. You were wondering how to handle your scene where the man kills his cousin. What about taking a look at the scene where George kills Lennie and seeing how Steinbeck handled it?
Just a thought...I hope I have not offended you in any way.I found your blog just wandering around the web a few weeks ago, and I appreciate (and admire) your writing style as well as what you have to say-you have made me laugh, evoked emotions, and provided me with thoughts and ideas to contemplate. I simply had a thought while reading this post, and thought I might share it.
I look forward to more posts...and that novel.
Thanks for your time :)

Sanctum's Muse said...

Thanks for reading, Sherherazad! Yes, it is a very good practice for serious writers to read great works of literature, and I will definitely consider your suggestion to peruse the passage in Of Mice and Men. Of course, I can't quite give away the resolution to this particular scene in my novel--suffice to say that it may be quite different from the one in Steinbeck's work.

So glad to have you as a follower! Good luck with your own blogging venture!

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