So, after about a year or more of development, I finally feel comfortable enough with the story I’ve been developing to “just write.” Do I win a prize? Am I cool now?
Anyway, things are not 100% set in stone, but I’m feeling pretty good. It’s taking me making every mistake possible to get here, but I’m finally now about to make a serious attempt at “just writing” a professional-grade first draft of a novel. It’s meant to be the first book in a two book story that might lead to an actual series if people like the characters.
The story is very much meant to be an American answer to Stieg Larsson’s original trilogy of work. But not in a derivative or hackneyed fashion. It’s pretty much meant to be an allegory of the entire Trump Era explored in the guise of a techno-spy thriller with elements of a police procedural. The first draft is going to suck so very, very bad. But all this hard work I’ve put into development at least allows me to feel confident enough to finish two drafts before showing it to anyone.
Whatever problems the novel has now comes from simply my innate inability to replicate the *structure* of The Girl Who Played With Fire because, well, lulz, I didn’t feel like doing all the hard work to follow it beat-for-beat. I really love that book, but not THAT much. I may eventually do such a next-level mapping out of that book’s structure out of sheer desperation, but for the time being, I’m content enough with what I’ve developed not to feel compelled to do that.
I have several other tracks I’m working on, too. I’ve got the second book in the story to work on (the first book ends in a cliffhanger) and I’ve got a first-person scifi-pandemic novel to map out as well as a scifi screenplay. I only am interested in the last two because I want the option of working on something creative should I need to catch my breath on the main “track.”
So, wish me luck. Sometime in the next few days, I’m going to “just write” as several people conspicuously told me to do 18 months ago. And those people can still suck it.
I’m currently developing a novel that aims to be a rather physological rumination of the Trump Era in the guise of a political spy thriller. I’ve been working on it for about a year now and it’s getting really, really good.
But there’s a problem.
Given when it’s set — the immediate past — the context might be far different than I could ever otherwise imagine. If Trump bungles the response to a brief, severe pandemic outbreak in the United States, enough people will finally hate him that I might be able to use his name in the novel. Right now, the novel is something of a scenario with *A* president not *THE* president involved.
But there are a lot of known unknowns. Trump could simply use the COVID19 situation to consolidate power in a big enough manner that I’ll be lucky not to be put in prison for the novel, much less having to worry about selling it.
I do think, however, that there’s likely to be a huge glut of new content in 2021 for no other reason than a lot of writers are going to be either inspired to finally finish their passion project or they’re going to be jiggled in some way out of their usual drunken stupor. (Or is that just me?)
Anyway. The point for me is to finish a novel for myself. That’s it. If I can get one person to read it all the way through and ask, “What happens next?” then all this work will be worth it. I just don’t want to embarrass myself.
I’m developing a novel and it’s going quite well. But there’s a problem — it’s meant to be an allegory of the Trump Era in the guise of a very snappy, accessible thriller. I’m growing a little nervous that while I will finish it, when I try to sell it, the context of the market will be profoundly different than I might ever expect.
The novel I’m developing has zero literary aspirations. It may if you realize it’s meant to be me screaming — in a very diffused manner — about how much I hate extremism, but, lulz. I just want everyone to have a good time. Ok, maybe not MAGA, they can suck it. But everyone else.
I really like this novel because of how character-driven it is. I really enjoy the characters I’ve come up with — especially the heroine. She’s a lot of fun. While she’s a bad ass who will kick your ass as need be, she’s not dark and unlikeable like Lisbeth Salander. She does have a pretty warped background like Salander, but I want you to like her. I want you to root for her.
Of course, I have to balance that will the risk of her coming off as nothing more than yet another sexxxy slutty assassin. I have to make her dark enough and complex enough that women (the audience) like her, but attractive enough that the marketplace (men) can hang their sexxy time fantasies on her in their minds. It’s a very complicated artistic balance.
I just hate the idea that I have to sacrifice my heroine’s likability or sex appeal in some ideological quest to make her a feminist icon. I mean, there IS sex-positive feminism, as Emily Ratajkowski makes clear on a daily basis. (Whoa buddy.)
All that doesn’t even begin to address the issue that because of identity politics I could do exactly what I set out to do and STILL “trigger” people because, well, lulz I’m a man and I should just fuck off. An example of this is a little Twitter tussle I got in with Crooked Media’s Erin Ryan. I will admit that I was a bit passive-aggressive about this very issue with her and she called me out on it, but I did make a pretty important point: it’s unlikely I will ever be able to placate her in my art. Not only am I not wealthy and / or talk dark and handsome, but I’m exactly the middle-aged white male member of the patriarchy she complains about all the time (albeit a very well-meaning loser version of it.)
I think I’m just going to pause here for a moment and have a pity party about how brutally real this concept is.
Ok, back to writing.
I guess the issue is — I want to placate Ms. Ryan with this novel while not being so preaching (ex: Olivia Wilde’s movie Book Smart) that center-Right men won’t be able to enjoy the novel on the face of it as a thriller. That’s my goal — to write a “woke” tenpole, if you will. But really, it wouldn’t be seen as all that woke because I’m going to rant against “woke” and “cancel” culture just as much fucking MAGA.
All I ask is a pandemic doesn’t make it impossible for me to sell this novel. Please?
Development of the novel I’ve been working on for about the last year is going well. But I have to accept there are some existential issues that aren’t going anywhere. I’ve been using Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire as my “textbook,” and, as such, I’ve picked up some of its macro structure, at least the first part of it.
As you may know, that novel actually has a “first part” that is more of a first adventure for the heroine than anything to do with the greater plot. That’s one of the reasons why that book’s word count is about 185,000 instead of the 165,000 of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I’m growing so frustrated with how long development has taken — and it’s actually going really well — so I’ve decided that the metric I’m going to use is results. I’m going to keep going with development, finish it and the write a first, serious draft as quickly as possible.
Though any number of disasters could strike that would make finishing the novel at least more difficult. I know the general plot of the novel so well that it’s really just a matter of doing the hard work at this point. I’m fully prepare to do that, but I also don’t want to wake up and it be a year from now and I’m still struggling with the finer points of this or that plot point. I want to actually finish the damn thing and try to sell it.
I really enjoy this novel for a number of reasons. There’s a surprise on every page and it affords me the opportunity rant — in a very diffused manner — about a wide range of things that really piss me off about the modern Trumplandia Era. If I was a better writer, you wouldn’t be able to figure out my politics. But, alas, while I’m not going to preach at you, I think you’ll be able to figure out I fucking hate MAGA with a white hot creative rage.
I kind of — for the time being — have something of an idyllic situation for developing and writing a novel. I would prefer a pandemic not make that a lot more difficult. But time will tell, I guess.