It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. And sometimes there’s a clash that can drive me up the wall. Like now. Let’s start with the worst of times. I’ve just about finished my new novel, the working title is On a Clear Day. Not finished, mind you, but just about finished. Which means I am working my way through the book crossing t’s and dotting I’s. Was my character’s hair blond on page 22 and brunette on page 141. Did I have Dahlia, my central character, thinking Michael, the ex-band leader was in pretty good shape on page 52 and on page 123? She’s hugged him twice, couldn’t she figure it out? And my wife thinks that I shouldn’t suggest that the tech guy who was killed was a cross dresser. Why do I need to think about that?
Okay, on to the best of times. I’m planning to write my first self-help book. I won’t be telling people what to do because mostly, they already know. What I will be discussing is why they (we) don’t do what we know we should (lose weight, exercise more, study,etc) and how they can get themselves going even though they are discouraged. This is an exciting project for me and I’m anxious to get it started. The trouble is I’m soooo anxious that I want to start typing before I finish the thinking.
A second problem is that I’ve asked a trillion people for input and I’m getting all kinds of good suggestions. Last week I got a nice letter from retired general Colin Powell suggesting what worked for him. I also got a great anecdote from the artist Ashley Bryan, and others keep coming in. Every time I get a good story I start changing the outline.
I should still be thinking about the novel I’m finishing, but I don’t want to do that.
How I’m handling the whole thing. I’m getting another writer to read the novel and give me feedback. That way I get a rest from the book and the fresh eyes should help.
On the self-help book I’m trying to narrow the outline down to three or four meaningful questions. If I can guide a reader through these questions the book should be worthwhile. I also told myself to knock out a draft in a month (I type really fast!) but if I do I’ll probably have to throw most of it away. That’s what usually happens if I work too fast.
Meanwhile I’m learning to making Tabouli, a Lebanese salad. I think I’ll put the salad in both manuscripts.