The Writer’s Itch

I’ve been really itching lately. Why yes, fall allergies have lingered into winter. And no, I’m not having a flare up of an embarrassing rash (but thanks for asking!).

The itch is coming from that fire within all writers to spend long hours away from our families and friends, locked in a room watching a story unfold in our mind as characters whisper their deepest and darkest secrets. This particular itch that needs to be scratched comes from the Muse. She’s ready, she’s waiting. She wants me to write.

And I’m ready to write. It’s been about six months since I finished the first draft of Pardon Falls, the sequel to Phoenix. The same amount of time has passed since I re-read it and realized ways to make it stronger, to put the characters in tougher binds (because it’s kind to be cruel, at least in fiction) and to raise the stakes of the story. I’ve been busy with preparing Phoenix for its release. Now that it’s out there, it’s time for me to turn back to Pardon Falls.

I’m a pantster when I write. Most of the time I know what I’d like to accomplish with a scene, but I don’t map out the entire story. Sometimes the story goes where I expected, other times it takes a surprising twist or turn that could only happen when the writer gets out of the way and lets the tale tell itself.

Phoenix was the same way when I finished the first draft. Plot lines needed tidying up, characters needed strengthening, it’s all part of the editing and polishing process. It took me several years to mold Phoenix into the novel it is today, but I don’t have that luxury with Pardon Falls. The rewrite I’m about to embark on needs to nail it – or at least hit close enough that a few additional taps with the hammer gets it in place. To remedy it, I banged out a four-page, stream-of-consciousness rough synopsis, backwards I know since these usually come after the work is complete, but I guess this is my own loosey-goosey version of an outline.

Looking over this rough synopsis I realized: I am looking down a very different road than the first draft took me.

I should follow the Muse and trust in her that she wouldn’t lead me astray, but what if she was drinking distracted when she gave me that synopsis. What if I end up writing myself into a corner? And, what if a third road emerges when I finish this draft?

Fears of a sophomore writer, I know. I should just get out of the way.

About Kimberly Packard

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years. When she isn’t writing, she can be found rollerblading, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in North Texas with her husband Colby, Oliver the cat and a 75-pound lap dog named Charlie. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors.
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2 Responses to The Writer’s Itch

  1. Michael says:

    Hi Kim. I had a chance last year to meet John Irving and one of the things he said — this may have been in a previous interview I watched after the fact, come to think of it — was that a reader once told him: “You create such wonderful, lovable characters. And then do such terrible things to them.” He smiled and said, that’s exactly the point. 🙂

  2. Kimberly Packard says:

    Hey Michael! Another reason to love John Irving – yep, we have to squeeze almost to the point of breaking. Which is really hard to do to these characters we form a bond and trust with.

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