Puerto Vallarta cat has the right idea...
For a writer, I often find myself at a loss for words.
Maybe I only get a certain quota, and once I've used them up, I have to wait for the next shipment to come in. Given that I'd been on somewhat of a tear working on my WIP for the last three months, I've probably been operating on a word deficit. I'd reached that point on a project where the end was not exactly in sight but coming into view, where I'm so intent on seeing it that it's like I'm in this weird tunnel, where everything around me is slightly out of focus and not nearly as important as that place I'm trying to get to.
Then I get there and realize that three months of junk mail and catalogs and magazines and receipts and all other manner of chaos is what I haven't been seeing as I tunneled my way through to the end.
Where I arrived on Saturday.
"You're not paying enough attention to me. Where are your priorities??"
Okay, it's not literally deadly, but the feeling of suddenly having to produce a book when others have expectations of you, for the first time, is very disconcerting and not very much fun. You're constantly second-guessing yourself—well, actually, that's every book, not just second ones, but it's worse with second ones because you feel like you suddenly have a lot more to lose, and coping with that feeling is a learned skill.
Anyway. "Getaway" wasn't very much fun to write. But that's another thing I've learned, five books into my so-called career—how I feel about what I'm writing while I'm writing it, how hard it is to pull it off, those feelings have very little relation to how the book comes out at the end of the
Coming soon to a bookstore near you...
"Go-Between," the "Getaway" sequel, was a fun book to write. I really enjoyed taking a character who in her first appearance was kind of a wreck, rather naive and totally in over her head, and showing who and where she is after that experience (POTENTIAL SPOILER: You really don't want to mess with Michelle). For me, part of the fun in writing a series is precisely that: showing how the experiences your characters have change them. I was also able to dig into an issue that fascinates and appalls me: the American prison/industrial complex. The US currently has a total inmate population of 2.3 million people, which in terms of both the number of prisoners and as a percentage of the population, is the biggest in the world. We’re 5 percent of the world’s population, and we have 25 percent of the world’s prison population.
That’s right—we’re number one.
The challenge is to deal with these kinds of themes in ways that aren't didactic, that are an integral part of the story, a part of its bones. It was fun to do.
Okay, it's possible that I have a strange idea of "fun." But I do think dealing with social issues and ideas of justice are things that crime novels do very well--a part of the genre's bones--and a part of what keeps me coming back to writing, and reading them.
I guess it's appropriate that I wrote some of "Go-Between's" final scenes in Puerto Vallarta, where "Getaway" took place ("Go-Between" is set almost entirely in the US, with one scene in another country). I really like Puerto Vallarta. It's a very interesting city, it's beautiful—
—in a place that looks like this:
"Go-Between" takes place almost entirely in the United States, and all kinds of scary things happen, but I doubt that anything I wrote would keep people away from Houston, Arcata, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, right?
What could possibly be scary about this place?
I read recently that one of the biggest regrets that older people have is that they didn't travel enough while they were physically able to. We're all constrained by our circumstances, but what I hope is to never be constrained by my fears.
Lisa…every other Wednesday...