What Is Missing

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I’ve got a desk full of half-started books. Now that the novel is out the door, I’ve been trying to get to some of the reading that has been stacking up and am finding myself starting and not finishing a number of things. It’s not that they’re bad books — they’ve all been hand-picked and been waiting patiently for me to get to them — it’s just that they aren’t what I need. This one is taking too much time building atmosphere and character history; this one is savagely non-linear and very meta-textual; this one is archly fond of its own grotesquery, which usually appeals to me; this one promises widescreen action but wants to spend 8000 pages getting all the pieces positioned. These books just aren’t flicking that nipple in my head. Shit isn’t blowing up.

There are, by the way, two definitions of that phrase: (1) as it sounds, and (2) wherein the writer manages to bake my brain with some aspect of their plotting / word fu / story-telling / world building and so on. So, it’s not all sparks and explosions. Well, not on the outside.

Anyway, I realize some of this may stem from the wool-gathering that I’m doing on SOULS TWO and beyond. Not that I’m actually starting the second book of an unsold series, but I have been thinking about future plans because I’m going to get asked and I want to be prepared. Thinking means story building and I build stories as if they were movie trailers. Because I realize that I’ve got about two minutes to get ME excited about writing this book. They’re collections of half-written scenes, lines of dialogue, character sketches and headshots, bits of action, music, sounds, colors — the random bits that, thrown together, give you a bare skeleton of a story. But it is enough to get an idea of (1) what the book is going to be about, (2) how I’m going to talk it up, (3) what research I’m going to have to do and (4) it’s a nugget that I want to know more about. In short, they’re widescreen teasers of big things to come.

The problem is that none of my current reading is meeting the standards I’ve got in my head. I want something to distract me from the nascent collection of pieces that are starting to form. I want something that will make me miss my train stop because I’ve got only ONE MORE PAGE to the end of a chapter. I want something that is going to make me try to be a better writer because the bar has just been raised. And I’m just not getting it.

What I really want is The Promise mashed into the second Pirates of the Caribbean film. I’m going to have to download both of these trailers, string ’em together and run ’em back to back for a couple of hours to get it out of my system, aren’t I? Or, I’m just going to have to write that book.

“Summon the Kraken!” is my new favorite phrase. I’m going to teach it to Solomon.