There are few things more delicious than being in a midst of a novel you love working on. You know where you’re going, you’re reasonably confident about where you’ve been, and your characters are starting to feel like old friends.
And then there’s the moment you start a new novel, when all you have is a blank white void staring back at you.
It should be exciting, like the start of a road trip to anywhere. But for some writers, like me, it’s mostly terrifying. Like, what if, halfway through our trip, I realize the people I’ve brought along for the ride aren’t as cool or as fascinating as I thought they’d be and are actually super boring and also assholes who no one likes. Or, what if we thought we’d be seeing cool places and having life-changing conversations, but our trip is actually just an endless string of truck stops and quippy, circular dialogue. Will I have to sneak out a bathroom window when we stop at a diner and walk my ass to a bus station?
I’ve had an idea for a new book brewing for a while (several ideas, actually), but here’s a list of things I’ve done to avoid writing it.
1) Watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it yet, I dare you to do so and play Spot Tom Everett Scott (aka Guy Patterson, my all-time favorite underrated movie character).
2) Started watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. If you aren’t already watching this, what the frig is wrong with you? I know, I know. ANOTHER streaming service wants your money. But for this feminist masterpiece, they truly deserve it.
3) Listened to Podcasts. If you haven’t listened to S-Town, again, what the frig is wrong with you? Potentially hairy ethics aside, it’s phenomenally good and will probably change your life. I’ve also been enjoying Rabbits even though it scares me and also sometimes makes me want to grab the audio equivalent of a red pen. Like, guys, if you describe something unquestionably creepy, you don’t need to follow that up with, “It was pretty creepy.”
4) Worked on a YA Paranormal series I started a gazillion years ago with my BFF. I mean, this totally still counts as writing so whatever. And for those interested in MAD WORLD news (cough cough…Offbeat YA…cough cough), we’re working on book four (really for real I swear) and planning new editions of the first three with snazzy new covers drawn by Troy H. Gardner himself.
5) Emailed my agent. I ran the idea for my new novel by her, half expecting her to talk me out of it because it’s pretty out there. Instead, she asked me to write it immediately so she can read it. *rolls eyes* Damn literary agents being all supportive and shit.
6) Wrote this blog post.
No more excuses. Time to gas up the car and take a trip with a bunch of fictional strangers who are hopefully not boring assholes. Wish me luck!
And let me know your tips for overcoming the blank page. So, you know, I have more things to read before I starting writing this new book…