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Writing a Novel: The Deep Blue Hold–Introduction

... I fight my insecurities and doubts and I withdraw farther away from people and life ...
n November 2016 I started work on a new novel with the working title: The Deep Blue Cage. A few weeks after I started, I stopped. I was feeling too depressed about everything including the idea of writing a new novel. It happens to me at various times, with varying degrees, and it is debilitating. The ultimate issue was: Why bother? Why bother write another novel no one will read and no one will care about. I also found I was dreading the writing process more and more. It was painful to think about.
I walked away and focused on other things. Or tried to. That didn’t work either. I felt trapped and unsure where I should head, what I should do. I even asked the big question, what the hell is life about anyway. There’s no one answer to this question despite the proclamations of some and because I believe I can think critically, can reason, I look at it from many angles and can make a case for various guiding principles to life, various philosophies, but I still have no answers.
One mantra espoused by some is ‘follow your passion’. Easy to say, but for me, difficult to engage in. What is my passion? I seem to have many, too many, but when I am overwrought with mental anguish I am not able to enjoy anything. I simply want to sleep, to turn my mind off and to not think.
I also question my motives. Why have I written so much? I’ve published four novels. No easy feat. I have written numerous songs, poems, short stories, plays and screenplays. And, I have several boxes filled with notebooks that represent my journals going back 45 years. That’s a lot of words. I did a rough guess of the word count and it’s easily three million. I wonder what drove me and I reach a conclusion that isn’t necessarily a good one. One based on being insecure and growing up in a troubled and poor household. I wanted things I didn’t have and it seems having them doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t increase my quality of life.
I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I know it’s good work. Professional work. Combined with a few bits that stink, but that’s the writing process. So I should feel pride, but I feel emptiness. I fight my insecurities and doubts and I withdraw farther away from people and life.
I look for answers and I can’t find any. I’ve been going around in circles for years and I would like to stop that. I am working towards the simplest life possible. Call it the less is more philosophy. I don’t know if it will work but it may bring a level of peace and comfort. And since it’s not possible for me to not do something, I will return to writing The Deep Blue Cage. I know I can write it, it’s a question of being able to stay healthy enough to see it through. But instead of writing it in a sealed room, I plan to document my progress on this Facebook page. To understand more, you need to understand my writing process.
Every novelist has their own setup and procedures they follow when writing a novel. The only right way of doing it is what works for the writer. Just because a favourite writer use pencils and napkins, doesn’t mean I have to follow it. I found my own approach based on what works.
My current process is straightforward. I have to begin with an exciting premise, and in this case, I have that. Based on the premise I begin to create an outline. I look at where the story starts, where it goes and critically I need to know how it ends and why it ends that way. Mixed into the outline are the characters. Who are they, what are they doing and why. It’s said that character is plot, I can accept that, but since I’m writing a thriller, the plot gets extra weight and the characters are often moulded to fit into the plot. To do otherwise would limit possible storylines and reduce tension in the story, reduce the thrill ride of the narrative. The objective is to create a story that gets your blood pumping, your adrenaline following and your mind worried about what’s going to happen next.
With an outline completed, I write each day to create a first draft. The objective is to write a certain quota of pages day after day, no days off, until it’s done. If I miss days, the story fades in my mind and I have to somehow recreate the mental mood that existed days before.
From there it’s editing hell until a final manuscript is complete.
All the while as I work on the novel, I keep a journal of notes and thoughts. It’s where I work on the outline. It’s where I make notes on research and ideas. It’s where I work out the scenes I want to write because until I see the scene in my mind, I won’t start writing the draft. And, it’s these notes I want to share on my Facebook page.
I am doing it because I have to do something and I know I can write this novel. I am also trying something different in the writing process. Perhaps it will provide some different insights. I’m not sure.
But I am also hoping to hear from you. I want to see feedback. I want to see constructive comments, useful bits of insights, and support and encouragement. I want to engage with others. And full warning, those inclined to post snark, sarcasm, or otherwise crude comments will be banned. You can make yourself feel good but try another approach.
I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’m hopeful some of you will connect with me. Even if it’s a thumbs up. And as I like to help, where I can, please ask.
James Piper
Kitchener, Ontario
Posted 2017/03/09 at 16h16ET in The Deep Blue Hold | Writing A Novel


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