The Worst of Times

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.

2 thoughts on “The Worst of Times

  1. My name is Tracie Jenkins and I am a teacher. Each year I look forward to finding ways to bring literature to life in my classroom. The story of Sweet Lemon Brown is probably one of my favorites! I utilize the fine arts as a vehicle for improving comprehension. One year we drew life size images of Lemon Brown. Another year we used percussion instruments as we read the words orally to a student composed blues tune.

    After, multiple reading students discovered the literature read like a blues song. I guess one could say they discovered their rhythm. I was so pleased with my students success. I extended the lesson by encouraging students to write about their treasures in life to a blues rhythm.

    Mr. Myers, your literature has inspired many of my reluctant readers to read…..what a joy! Literature that confirms and inspires change in ” our” communities is awesome! Children are so open when they connect to the characters with in the text of your stories.

    Thank you,

    Tracie Jenkins

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