Only one chapter, again, today. Still on track to finish the book this week, but it’s slower than I’d expected. I think most of the resistance I’m running into at this point comes from something I’ve had trouble with for as long as I can recall: I know the story. I know the story, so it’s harder to write the story.
When I just sit down and write, when I don’t know what’s coming next or where things are headed or even, in some cases, anything about what I’m going to write at all, it often flows quite freely. Even with the Untrue Tales… where I know the basic character/story/universe arcs as well as I know my own past, I don’t know how it’s all going to come together on the page, and it comes pretty easily. With Forget What You Can’t Remember, the most difficult parts to write came after I’d realized how it was all going to come together at the end, because then I had to push these characters through those situations and lead them to be at the right places at the right times … and that’s less like watching the story unfold as it is hammering cold iron into shackles. And it’s always felt less like creative expression to me and more like work.
I’ve been doing somewhat better with this book than I expected, considering I’d had the bulk of the story outlined months ahead of time. In fact, the parts of the story I knew the best, toward the beginning, were some of the easiest to write. This may have had to do with the extent to which they were unconstrained; I knew what had to happen, and I knew what the last scenes of the book would be, but everything in between was unknown. And until I’d reached the middle of the book, I didn’t even know how long it was going to be or how much more time/space/words/chapters I’d have available to get Melvin and Stacy and Frances to where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.
It was after that I slowed down, I guess. After I’d more thoroughly outlined the remainder of the book. After I’d created a bit more of a financial plan for the book. Something vital happened in chapter 11, and getting everyone and everything in place for it has been a challenge. Then, writing it was a challenge. Now I’ve only got two chapters left: Chapter 12, in which I have to get everyone in place for chapter 13, in which Melvin has one more important place in the story to be, and Stacy’s final fate (in this book) is revealed. I expect the core of chapter 13 to be technically exacting, but easy to write; this is my favorite moment, the brilliant thing that makes me love the book (and that I think will lead many to despise it/me). I expect the vignette that closes out the novel to be reasonably easy to write and, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I plan to write a new short story to include in a 2nd Edition of More Lost Memories that expands on something that happens in that vignette. ((Actually, I plan to write two more stories for MLM; one based on that something in ch.13, one written from a zombie’s POV in the Denver outbreak.))
Ooh. I’ve just had an idea about the length of Cheating, Death. I could add a 2nd appendix which includes all these blog posts. (I’m already planning on writing an “Appendix Z – About the Zombies” where I detail what the zombies are and are not in my book. ie: they are dumb and slow, they don’t use tools or language, and they are spread by infection/bites, so the uninfected dead are just dead, and no one is coming up out of graves (Contrary to the cover image. Hah!)) They seem like they might be an interesting/relevant addition to the book. I’ll look them over and consider it when I get to doing the layout. Tell me what you think of the idea, in the comments.