Recently, I was working with my three homeschooled children on a literary analysis essay- why Lois Lowry’s The Giver is a dystopian novel. None of them were really keen on the idea of multiple drafts and I had an epiphany. On the dry erase board, I wrote the subject at hand— Writing. I asked them, when we add and subtract, multiply and divide, we’re doing what? “Math,” they answered. “Right, we’re not mathing are we?” And then I went through the various other subjects— Science vs. Sciencing, Social Studies vs. Social Studying. Only Reading gets the same progressive verb ending as Writing. And my son brought up that this meant that the action was ongoing.
This is one reason I’ve taken to the word noveling. There’s just so much involved in a single novel— research, characterization, dialogue, plot, setting, writing, revising, editing, etc. One doesn’t simply write a novel and working on a novel sounds like a hobby thing to do. The solution? Noveling.
As of this moment, I am thoroughly revising a social realism novel. I am at the 35,005th word of an “Atwood edit.” Exactly how many words this novel will have is TBD as a thorough revision means adding (and subtracting) a great deal. This novel’s complete, however—has its beginning, middle, and end and these various parts have been revised and edited thoroughly before. Way, way many times before. But two more revisions— the “Atwood edit” and a “dream agent” edit— and I will have taken it as far as I can.
As of this moment, a dystopian speculative novel is waiting its turn. I have drafted some on it. Edited a bit of it. Even “workshopped” the first pages of it with Margaret Atwood. While I’m doing the dishes or walking the dog, I “get” or “see” or imagine scenes for it. Mostly, though, I’m just thinking about it. Taking to heart what Atwood wrote in a note at the end of Oryx and Crake, “What if we continue on the path we’re already on?” and trying to imagine that future.
As of this moment, I’m Jonesing to research another novel idea. There’s a world I long to immerse myself in. Research and travel and probably some translators will be needed. But the seeds for this novel are strong and they’re taking root. I have to keep them buried until I can shine some light on them.
As of this moment, a kernel of a Young Adult novel is in my head. Maybe it’ll go somewhere. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know yet. I’ll know better when I’m thoroughly revising some previous thought of and more worked out novel and start seeing scenes or getting lines or a character starts demanding attention.
So, there are all these things going on in my head all at once. After I finish writing this blog piece, I’m going to tackle the 35,006th+ words of my completed, but not finished social realism novel. Line editing, rearranging scenes, better transitions, thinking about cuts and working out additions. There are the novel ideas that are waiting in the wings that so often come to me unbidden. How do I describe this process? Working on a novel? Writing a novel (when writing is such a tiny little bit of it)? Revising and editing and re- so much of it— reworking, reordering, re-editing, replacing, etc. a novel? There are simply too many parts to the whole of this novel writing thing. So, I’m noveling. I can’t put it any other way.
|Photo by Curt Richter|