Fanfare for the Common Man

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I’m writing a novel.
People who know me yawn and say, so what else is new?
This isn’t the first time I’ve said “I’m writing a novel.” Over the years I’ve finished more than a dozen stories, most really awful, some pretty good, and while my name has topped the New York Times Bestseller’s List four or five times, none of those titles were mine.
My books are called, LOOT, A Fool’s Gold, Full Boat and A Fish Tale. The romances go by Locked Hearts, The Lunchbox, and Maybe.
Maybe I’ll get around to seeing them published someday. Pigs might fly first.
Writing the novel is the easy part. It’s getting one published that’s my kryptonite.
I can spit out a 120,000-word story in about six weeks. LOOT took me a little longer and I began to wonder why I could never finish the story when I was told a standard pocket paperback runs about 75,000 words tops.
LOOT topped out at 146,000 words and change.
No wonder I could never finish the story. That’s Stephen King territory I was told. I wrote the phone book.
Then to make matters worse, I yada-yada’d myself.
You know the routine. He looked deeply into her eyes and she nervously bit her lower lip, yada-yada he promised to call her but never did.
Verbosity has never been a problem for me. It’s less of a problem now than a few years ago. Let’s just say in high school those minimum of five-page term papers were never a problem for me.
I always thought a word limit was something that did not apply to me. People needed to hear what I had to say. Then I had to read my own work.
I’m in the editing process of a romance novel called Locked Hearts.
It’s decent enough, but my God, I don’t know how to shut up. I get on my own nerves. I read two pages of fluff and start yelling at my laptop, “Come on Dan, shut up already and tell the story!”
I wrote this back in 2004, during what I call my Cotton Candy Sunset phase.
That’s when I couldn’t write two paragraphs without pausing to describing throw pillow clouds of downy white, splashes of pink, orange and magenta spilling above the western horizon – hence the name Cotton Candy Sunset, the ocean the color of pewter, and anvil shaped cloud towers reaching for the top of the sky.
Then I realized stories needed strong characters and I evolved into what I call my Tourette’s Syndrome phase.
This is when I start focusing on characters but every time I had someone say something, “he said” and “she said” were usually followed by a bodily function like a helpless sigh, a shrug, a cut look, a wry grin, a hiking of the shoulders, a cocking of an eyebrow, stray strands of hair constantly falling into the heroine’s eye only to be seductively brushed back, winces, grimaces, flushing of the cheeks, blanching of those same cheeks and last but not least, a sob catching on a throat’s briar.
I used to think this stuff was good, but it’s awful.
I talk writing all the time with young people and I say how their writing will evolve over the years as will their writer’s voice. Mine’s still evolving and I’m 55.
Sometimes I need to develop a good case of writer’s laryngitis. I need to shut up for a week or three.

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