After weeks of absence, I'm back. Back on the wagon, that is. I've never actually gone anywhere (despite a few trips here and there).
I still believe in my 500-words-a-day challenge, but I've fallen off the wagon for so long now, I don't think I'd continue with the tally. Besides, these daily tallies are boring. Who wants to read how many words I've written yesterday or today or may write tomorrow?
What I want to say is that writing is a process, and sometimes you just can't force it. I know some writers keep writing every day even if they don't "feel it" -- they believe they can always fix the writing later. For me, I'm such a perfectionist that I simply can't put crap (at least, that's how I feel at the moment -- nothing is really perfect anyway) on the page when I'm creatively dry. As much as I pride myself as a writer, my life doesn't only revolve around it. I have other interests; I have friends; I have my family; I have obligations; I have other things I need to do, and it would only make it worse if I force myself to write the novel every day.
Experience has taught me that I don't like to be forced or restricted to do one thing and one thing only. I'd get bored and burned out. I know that eventually I will pick it up again, and the creative juice will flow again.
So, during my "hiatus" I kept thinking on the story, and how it would advance, and I kept having conversations with my characters. The build-up was worth it.
Yesterday I finally sat down and wrote again. I did about 1100 words, and I was pleased with them. It was a new opening for The Terrapin's Trail, and I really liked it. I shared it with a beta reader, and he seemed to like the new opening, too, and he asked just the right questions that I know I am on track. I like it when my readers are asking the right questions.
Granted, watching the miniseries The Pacific has helped me conceptualize and visualize these scenes. The show puts me in a mood and atmosphere that the books couldn't. I could do all the research I want and still not get it right -- fiction is different than non-fiction. So why not let Tom Hanks and his people do the research for me? The miniseries helped put me in that mindset, and put me in those situations, as if I were actually there. I was also pleased to get some affirmation, things that I got right in my own novel and research, and things I needed to change.
No matter what, though, the story is going to be told through the prism of the modern world. I am not going to be able to write like I was born in 1925, and I need to think about the sensibilities of today's readers, not someone living in 1945. So that's the challenge for me -- how do I make the novel authentic but also relevant? How do you compensate for my lack of experience and yet not make the novel come off as a research paper?
I like a good challenge.