(My Horny Hump Day post is here.)
Since I’m getting so good at writing shorter than average (for me) posts, I’m going to try putting three topics into one instead of making separate posts for each. (I don’t think my average post length will ever be 300 words or under, but I’ve come a long way from my earliest superlong posts!)
The fourth round of A Round of Words in 80 Days began on 1 October. My ideal goal for this round is to finish my contemporary historical WIP, Justine Grown Up, which at around the 100,000-word mark is probably around halfway done. When I began it last year, my guesstimate was 150,000-200,000 words, and now I’m leaning towards the longer end of that guess. I’ve made a ton of progress on it in the last few weeks, and hope that momentum will continue.
If I finish before the 80 days, the next project I’ll get to work on is The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees (formerly five files simply named “Eszter-Marie-Caterina”). It’s a collection of stories/wraparound narrative I want to flesh out and expand into a full novel, just as I’m planning to do with my other story collections about my Shoah characters. My guess is that it might finish up a bit over 120,000 words.
Today, the first Wednesday of the month, is the annual meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I had a post written about my lack of luck with finding critique partners, but moved it to my draft folder so I could write about something shorter.
Right now I’m finally reading the classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and, not to try to compare myself to a timeless classic, but it really reminds me of the kind of books I write. There aren’t really any stakes, it doesn’t follow any sort of modern plot structure, Part II is the backstory of Francie’s parents and grandparents, it covers a number of years and ages the protagonist from middle grade to young adult. So many things that would make it hard to get published today.
I grew up reading books like that, and it explains why I didn’t really have any real plots in my earliest stories and novellas. I wasn’t used to books with some kind of three-act structure, or based around an issue that needed to be solved or a goal needing to be attained. Just simple, slow-paced stories of people growing up or going through gripping historical eras, with the joys, sorrows, loves, losses, adventures, and misadventures to be had along the way.
To me, a typical plot is about my Atlantic City characters coming of age during WWII and the early postwar era, or my European characters surviving the Shoah and learning how to be a part of humanity again in the years after liberation, then adjusting to life in America or Israel. To me, it would be foreign to base an entire book solely around something like “John has a Magickal secret power that could save or destroy the world.”
Hopefully, slower-paced books that are more about a journey through life, with all its ups and downs, will become popular again, for both adults and young people.
And today is also the third day of the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge. I’ve covered years 0 and 1, and am up to 2. I turned 2 in late ’81, and have one vague, fuzzy memory from ’82. I remember my parents carrying me in to see E.T., a bit after the movie had already started, and seeing E.T. holding up his glowing finger.
Some of my favorite albums were released in ’82—All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, Rio, It’s Hard. I don’t care what detractors say, I’ve always loved The Who’s swan song. Yes, it’s not nearly in the same vein as Who’s Next or Quadrophenia, but the musical climate was changing, they were getting older, Keith was no longer alive. There are so many wonderful, underrated songs on it, like “One Life’s Enough,” “A Man Is a Man,” “Athena,” and of course the closing track, their most perfect swan song, “Cry If You Want.” I just love the refrain during the middle-eight, “Let your tears flow/Let your past go.” And I love “It’s Hard,” the title track, esp. the line “Anyone can do anything if they hold the right cards.”