Monday Musings: Squirming in the Gap

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by Kathleen Valentine

branFor well over a year now I have been working on a story designed to be the third entry in my Halcyon Beach Chronicles series. This series is different from anything else I write because it has no primary characters who appear in each book. There are a few secondary characters that appear in each story but the main characters change—mostly because something horrible happens to them thanks to the ghosts that haunt this town.

For some reason that I do not understand this story, though longer than the first two but not as long as most of my writing, has been hard to get through. It was one of those strange instances where I knew what the story was but trying to figure out how to tell it was daunting me. Basically, the plot is this: a young and successful female journalist, while staying in a town where she is writing an article for the magazine she works for, meets a man who tells her about Halcyon Beach and bout the many peculiar and mysterious things that go on there. Out of curiosity she decides to drive there and spend a couple days snooping around to see what she can find. As luck would have it, she finds several leads worth following but within a couple days, strange things start happening to her, too.

Anyway, after a year of writing and rewriting and rewriting some more, I forced myself to focus on this because I want to have it ready by Halloween. It is a ghost story after all. After numerous trials and errors, I decided that my problem was that there were two story lines and they were at odds with each other. There was the story of an old man and the ghost that was haunting him, and there was the story of the journalist and what was happening to her. Finally, I came up with a solution and, once I resolved how I wanted to deal with the two different stories, the writing went well. This past week I sent the manuscript out to my four favorite first readers and one has already written back with lots of compliments. Now to await the other three.

I call this The Gap—the space between sending the manuscript out and waiting for the feedback—and it is never a comfortable place for me to be. For one thing, no matter how meticulously I edit before sending, the very minute I hit SEND, I see a glaring mistake. It ALWAYS happens. Ad then, because I love torturing myself, I read the manuscript and the whole thing suddenly seems entirely stupid and who-do-you-think-you-are-anyway? Trying to be a writer… Good grief.

In George R.R, Martin’s Game of Thrones books there is a line I particularly love. Young Bran is talking to his father and he says, “Can a man still be brave even if he is afraid?” His father responds, “That’s the only time a man can be brave.” I think that is important to remember when we are going through periods of doubt.

So it will be a few more days until I get more reports but I am barreling ahead trying to get everything ready for this release. I’ve been through this so many times before you’d think I’d be used to it by now but, as always, I’m a nervous wreck. I want to create something people will love. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading.

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