Friday, April 6, 2012

Jack of All Trades

I've been away for awhile, from this blog and from Victorian England.  I must confess, since about January, I had no inspiration to work on my next Holmes novel, Jack of All Trades, at all.

It's the curse of a writer, or at least this writer, to be plagued with writer's block.  Some days, the writing is absolutely wonderful, and everything that comes out of your mind, through the pen, and onto the page is a glorious celebration of the possible perfection of the English language.

Other days, however . . .  You feel like you couldn't put even a halfway decent sentence together to save your life.  Anything that does spew out of your pen is complete crap, not even worth editing later because it feels so choppy, so you may as well not even write it.

And of course, the third option.  Where you're just so uninspired that you don't even want to pick up a pen, let alone write anything.

I've felt all three.  And lately, I've just been feeling completely uninspired as far as Holmes.  Part of it was because I finally got a job in the middle of January after being unemployed for a year.  So I was getting used to that.  Then, the same week I began the job, I noticed that my hedgehog (yes, I owned a hedgehog,) was sick.  I brought him to the vet and was given antibiotics to give him twice a day.  Unfortunately, those didn't work, so he was taken back in for a biopsy.  When the biopsy came back, it was discovered that he had cancer all along his lower jaw, as opposed to a vicious infection.  On Feb. 4th, I brought him back to the vet and had him put to sleep because I was not going to let him starve to death.  He'd already been losing weight since the first time he went to the vet when that began.

It was easily the hardest thing I've had to do concerning a pet.  I loved my little hedgehog.  But at least I know he lived a long life for a hedgehog.  They lived about four to six years, according to a breeder site, and Sonic was almost five.  He would've turned five on the 18th of this month, in fact.

In addition to that, while I was searching for food he might be able to swallow more easily, I went into a pet shop nearby.  There, I saw a bird called a Black-headed Caique.  (Ki-eek.)  I've wanted one of these little parrots for about ten years now, since I first saw one at another pet store near me that actually closed about a year ago.  Well, a few weeks and my tax return later, and I brought him and his new cage home with me.

I wasn't doing no writing during this time.  I'm writing different Young Adult novels, too, which I hope will be published eventually.  I went back to work on one of those and wrote a good twenty or more pages for it, as well as starting to rewrite the one before it, and figuring out the starting points for the two after it.

Unfortunately, once again, I missed the Great Holmes Debate because my laptop was out of commission for several weeks before I could bring it to a repair place.  As it turned out, they recommended I buy a new laptop, so that's what I'm typing on now.  The keyboard is taking a bit of time to get used to, but hey, at least now I can type.

Which (finally) brings me around to Jack of All Trades.  I'd been writing it in a non-linear fashion - that is, whenever a part struck me, I'd start writing it, then rip it out of the notebook and place it in the appropriate spot in a binder I had to hold the notes - and that worked for a bit.  Normally, I don't write novels like that.  The only one I've ever done that way was Rendezvous, and the only reason that worked is because I knew the story of Phantom of the Opera so well, there was no way I've get confused over where a part happened.

As I said, for Jack of All Trades, it worked for awhile.  I've got my binder with the segments.  But I decided a couple weeks ago to write it in a linear fashion.  It's going rather well at the moment.  I'm not going to give too much away, but I've decided to do something different in this novel.  Holmes has decided to release this story to the public, though he's hesitant to do so.  Instead of writing it primarily himself, and having narration from Watson/Erik and/or others, he asks Erik to commandeer the manuscript.  There will be about three segments narrated by Holmes, but the rest is narrated by Erik and Watson.  I hope this will satisfy the ones wishing for more Watson time after the second novel.  I'm hoping to give both Watson and Erik equal narrating time, but I can say that the chapters Watson narrates will probably be longer, so it will seem like he has more focus.

I do understand readers' desire for Watson being in the limelight and not having his role supplanted, seeing as how I'm including Erik in these books.  I suppose the reason I give so much narration power to other characters is because, with the Conan Doyle stories, and with most other pastiches, we hear Watson's voice.  Holmes novels are rarely told in third person, and mostly, we see Watson's perspective, unless he has been taken completely out of the equation and we have a new narrator who is a relation to Holmes (as in Angel of the Opera or the Web Weaver by Sam Siciliano,) or is a random person Holmes happens to meet (Shadow of Reichenbach Falls by John R King.)  While I don't want to break up this iconic duo (because honestly, where would either of them be without the other?  Or, as Sherlock puts it in the first season of the BBC's Sherlock, "Where would I be without my blogger?") I also don't want to just have Watson's take on things.  I want to get into the other characters' minds, walk around in their shoes for a bit.

Well, I suppose I've rambled enough.  I'll have hopefully two interviews forthcoming, so I look forward to posting those on here.

1 comment:

  1. As a young, unpublished writer, I've definitely known the feeling that my creative powers and writing impulses have drained out of me. The thing that usually gets my butt in gear is a deadline, and those are hard for me to set for myself. It can also be daunting when you have other things to think or worry about. I'm very sorry about your hedgehog.

    One strategy I've found a bit helpful in keeping on track with a story is laying out an outline. It doesn't always effectively combat writer's block, but for one novel (?) (really a fanfic, but it's novel-length) of mine I can check off what I've done and note what I need to finish. (I have to update it, though. New scenes and twists keep popping up without my consent.) My professor recommended this technique, too, so I guess it's been validated by the masters.

    About the narrators: You make a good point about Watson's general control over narrative in canon and pastiches, and changing things up can be very interesting. For me, though, there should always be particular reasons why a character is narrating. What perspective do they offer that no one else can? Watson is a good narrator because he's relatively reliable and "normal" enough for the reader to understand and relate to him. Yet he's close enough to Holmes to have insight into his eccentricities and humanity. Having both him and Holmes narrate somewhat obviates Watson's role in that second instance.

    As for Erik in IWFtA, I wasn't sure if his narrative voice should be so controlled even though he's recovering from madness. But your Erik *is* more coherent than other versions, so it isn't too problematic. That comes down more to individual interpretation. Sometimes readers, depending on their aesthetic and perceptions of characters, like more mystery when it comes to Holmes' inner thoughts. A unique mind like his would be hard to render to everyone's satisfaction. Same goes for Erik, I suppose. I personally love getting inside their heads *because* they have such a strange perspective of the world.

    ANYWAY, I'm still looking forward to your next book (and to see Erik again - I love his and Sherlock's interactions), so keep with it! :D Good luck with everything else, too.