(Continued from CKR: March 2006...)
Thursday, April 13, 2006
The Bloody Pens critiqued a revised Chapter 1 tonight and still found things they didn’t like. They keep asking for more detail, but I can’t help but think, “If I put all the detail in the first paragraph, why write the rest of the book?” But they’re always right—fuckin’ Pens!—so I guess it’s back to revisions.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
I finally worked on new chapters today (15 & 16, which are set at the end of the race and in the truck on the ride back to Orlando). Since March 10, I’ve been revising and working on other things, but this book is constantly on my mind: lines of dialogue, clips of narrative, changes in character and setting. I’m having trouble with one of the main characters, Jimmy. I can picture him, I know what he does for a living, and I know he’s got a good marriage, but I’m struggling with who he “really” is. Is he genuine? Is he loyal? Is he confused? Or is he something else? Hopefully, I’ll figure it out before I get to the end of the book. Otherwise, if his character contributes nothing to the story, then I’ll have to go back and write him out.
I’m toying with whether or not to use an actual Daytona bar as the setting for one of the scenes. Right now, I don’t have any idea of the geography near the track, so I’m writing as if I know what I’m talking about. After the Pepsi 400 in July, I’ll go back and edit for authenticity.
Kicking around in the scant bit of litter outside the entrance gate, Ted had little hope of finding anything. So he wasn’t disappointed when he didn’t.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Pens made it through a revised revised Chapter 1 and, for the first time, Chapter 2. I took a beating for two solid hours. If that can’t crack a writer’s ego, I don’t know what will. But it’s obvious there’s something wrong with the beginning of the book, so maybe it’s time to think of another way to come at it. Right now, though, I’m too upset to even think about making changes. I might have felt better if we’d gone out for “refreshing beverages” after the meeting—I could have used a shot—but we went straight home. It’s not that the Pens are brutal, it’s that they’re honest, and sometimes honesty is hard to hear. Especially when you believe you’re holding a blockbuster novel in your hands and they tell you, “Your protagonist isn’t likeable,” among other things. What’s contributing to the difficulty, I think, is that I’m writing so far ahead. I’ve seen fifteen chapters and they’ve only seen two. Plus, it took me nearly half the book before I really knew my main character, and I haven’t edited the first chapters to reflect that. Fuckin’ Pens.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Instead of working on the book today, I was inspired by my last Pens meeting to write a short story for our group’s first collaborative effort, The Bloody Pens: An Anthology. It’s a humorous piece, appropriately titled “The Pens,” that hopefully captures the feeling of being critiqued by bloodthirsty writers while it illustrates what great friends we’ve become. (One of my favorite “quotes” from the short story is, “…I thought it in poor taste to show up at a writers’ meeting smelling of whiskey. I’ve since gotten over that.”) But there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel for the Kid Rock story, because one of the Pens—Randy, a guy who works in publishing—has agreed to read ahead of the group. Being the needy writer I am, always jonesing for feedback, I sent him the first four chapters. Hopefully Randy can catch-up quickly and help me figure out where I’ve gone wrong.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Kid Rock played himself tonight on CSI with Gary Sinise (CBS). It’s not a show I watch, but I tuned in, and now I’m thinking: if I don’t finish this book pretty soon, he’s going to get huge, he’s going to be everywhere, moreso than he is already, and I’ll be just another schmuck in the crowd with my hand raised, yelling “pick me, pick me for your next project.” And it hit me that I wasn’t merely “star-gazing” a couple months ago when I thought about contacting Kid Rock. I actually have to get this manuscript to him somehow. He’s not really IN the book (at least, not so much), but he’s a vital part of it. I absolutely want to write good fiction, but it seems I’ve also stumbled on a quest and am truly “chasing Kid Rock.” But isn’t that why I fought this idea in the beginning? What have I gotten myself into?
These chapters contain the scenes where the protagonist realizes his little world wasn’t what he thought it was. They also reveal the theme and foreshadow the end. In other words, I’m not coughing up much detail about this part.
“I doubt they’ve got anything gourmet coming out of the kitchen at this hour, but it doesn’t matter. I need something to soak up the alcohol I’m about to drink.”
Thursday, April 27, 2006
At the Pens meeting tonight, I brought them the short story I wrote on Monday instead of new book chapters. They loved it. We laughed so hard, some of us had tears rolling down our cheeks. Okay, maybe that was only me. But they liked it, and they didn’t change much, and that’s good because my confidence level is back up. Randy’s read the first seven chapters of CKR and he says I’m onto something big. I could have told him that, but I’m so tired—exhausted, malnourished—that I don’t have the strength. I can’t believe how hard this story is driving me.
(to be continued...)