I’m not cheating on you.

So, I’ve made my first forays into publishing with the hard-boiled neo-noir “Swan Song” and the procedural thriller “The 9 mm Solution”. The part of me that’s business oriented says “Continue on with the mystery/thriller/crime genre. The writer says “Stretch your wings.”

I listened to the writer. I’ve started work on a contemporary fiction piece dealing with grief and loss. A 50-something uptight Midwesterner, a recent widower, now has to cope with the suicide of his estranged daughter, learning that she was a lesbian. His daughter’s partner is distrustful of the man and has her own issues dealing with the notion that her partner simply left her with no explanation. It’s probably the most emotional piece I’ve ever attempted.

Alongside that, I am attempting a work of metafiction: the fictional biography of a writer named H.B. Berlow, who bares an uncanny resemblance to, well, me. It’s liberating and strange and somehow freeing. I turn to it on occasion when it’s late and I’m tired and have had perhaps an extra martini.

However, my main effort has been on the contemporary fiction. It utilizes everything I have ever learned about writing. And I’m learning more. But after the last meeting with my critique group, I realized that I did not fully understand the two main characters. Granted, I am closer in disposition (gender, age, etc.) to the father. Yet, the lesbian partner is an image and not yet flesh and blood. I have gotten great feedback but I realized I wasn’t ready to proceed.

Initially, I thought I would try to be a plotter. I was rather meticulous as to where I wanted the story to go. After ten pages, I had reached where I thought I would be after fifty. The plot got thrown out the window and I went back to being a pantser. Now this further stumbling block.

I decided it was best to let it sit for a bit, gel a little more, and allow the characters to come to me and present themselves. This way I could tell their story. Therefore it’s back to the metafiction. I’m not sure how much wackiness I can deal with several nights in a row. I do want to let the contemporary fiction piece know one thing: I’m not cheating on you. I’m not giving you up for a more fun and adventurous lover.

It is difficult when you are working on things from two diametrically opposed genres not to think in this fashion. If you are as passionate as I am as a writer, you know what I mean. It’s not easy to put one aside and say “We’ll get together later.” Hey, how would you feel?

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