Monday, May 24, 2010

Fixing Things

Writing a long work of fiction is so different from what I usually do. Typically, I write magazine profiles and service articles. A little background research, a few phone interviews, some time drafting the article, and then I turn in the completed piece and invoice. I only wish writing a novel was that easy. I felt really good about my first draft until I stepped back from it for awhile and came back and read it with fresh eyes. I did not like what I saw.
For one thing, it may not be long enough for commercial fiction right now. It also has one of those nice, "tie it up in a bow and present it" type endings right now. I realize there needs to be an additional chapter or more of conflict before I can conclude the story.
These realizations have left me feeling more than a little frustrated, as there are two opportunities rapidly approaching that would allow me to show a query letter and sample chapters to a few agents. I don't want to have to pass these opportunities up, but moving ahead means I'm going to have to kick myself into high gear over the next two weeks. Can I do this? Yes. Even with a few article deadlines looming over my head. No, make that YES!
I happened to be flipping through the channels this weekend when I came across an old episode of VH1's "Storytellers," featuring one of my favorite bands, Coldplay. This particular episode was taped right as they were promoting the album "X&Y." They played the very moving song, "Fix You," live for one of the very first times. Lead singer Chris Martin talked about how much they worked on the song to perfect it, writing it roughly at first and recording it while on a world tour. They eventually scrapped some of the original lyrics and rewrote it, and it remains one of the songs they're proudest of.
Hearing how hard they worked on that song cheered me up a little bit. It also made me very emotional because a few years ago, after listening to that song for the very first time, I began to get the idea for my novel. That song has always been on my playlist as I've struggled to outline the story of four friends who survive a devastating accident in high school, only to battle their own personal demons five years later instead.
It's funny how one thing can inspire such a complicated piece of work, but I will always be grateful to Coldplay for writing and producing that song. It finally gave me the inspiration to do what my friends and mentors have always told me I could do -- write a book.
Now, onward and upward!