Dis/Inhibition

22 May

With Buffy being over and my uncertainty about next year’s Angel being at “If I think about it, I may go mental” proportions, I am going to start talking about other things in this here blog.

Like my novel. I really wanted to be farther along in this thing than I am right now. Would have been nice to have it near the publication stage before everyone at ATPo went scampering off to their lives and I could use my built-in audience to sell a piece of fiction that has absolutely nothing to do with the supernatural, the Buffyverse, or philosophy.

But *alas* I am in the editing stage, and I don’t see being out of the editing stage even by the end of this calendar year. The big hold-up in getting done, I suppose, was the website. But enough about that thing.

My novel. My novel is about a 25-year-old graduate student named Valerie. It’s a character-driven, not plot-driven novel, so summing up the story is very difficult. Suffice it to say, it’s about a woman who is emotionally screwed up and how she begins to learn not to be. This is a big theme with me, for reasons I don’t really understand (being pretty emotionally level myself). Nevetheless, my fascination with this theme explains why I love the character of Faith and why I am biting my tongue for the foreseeable future lest I blast Mutant Enemy for wiping Connor’s slate clean.

Enough of the Buffyverse stuff. So Valerie, right. Valerie I have lived with in my head and on the page for ten years now. She was once upon a time just another character in an assemblage of characters, and then she took over the story, as some characters will do. She is so many things that I am not–emotionally screwed-up, parental-issues having, outgoing and obnoxious and flirtatious and promiscuous. She’s cool and worldly and did every drug imaginable when she was a teen.

They say, “write what you know”. Well, all I really know about her I learned from other people. She is not me. She is a certain type of woman that I have met more than once in my life. Bold, brazen, intelligent and beautiful and so absolutely insecure and fucked-up at the same time.

When the novel opens, she has made something of her life. Her adolescent past has passed and she is in graduate school and doing pretty well. But she carries around the emotional baggage of the past, and it gets reflected in her every interaction. Her foil/antagonist is her graduate school advisor, Elizabeth, a woman whose controlling tendencies rival only those of Valerie’s own mother, and the result is, well, governed by a little-known theory of physics that says that “for every attempt to control Valerie, there is an equal and opposite attempt by Valerie to get out of control.”

Starting with Elizabeth’s cute, sheltered, and hormonal teenaged daughter.

Up, down, turn-around,
please don’t let me hit the ground
Tonight I think I’ll walk alone
I’ll find my soul as I go home.

–New Order “Temptation”

6 Responses to “Dis/Inhibition”

  1. rahael May 22, 2003 at 2:54 pm #

    I like this Masq
    I like it very much. You do a mean synopsis!

  2. neshaffer May 22, 2003 at 3:02 pm #

    Thanks!
    I’m hoping that by describing to y’all, I’ll get a better handle on what it is about myself.
    Part of what is slowing me down in this re-write/edit is trying to get coherent about the themes in the novel. “Now what the heck is this thing about?”
    Being able to see the resonance of Valerie in characters like Faith and Connor helps. If I know why those characters spoke to me, I know why Valerie speaks to me.

  3. dherblay May 22, 2003 at 4:13 pm #

    I want to read that!
    But my reasons for wanting to aren’t very noble or progressive so I’ll shut up now.

  4. neshaffer May 22, 2003 at 6:30 pm #

    Yeah, well…
    My reasons for writing it weren’t noble or progressive in the beginning, either. Hopefully it still retains some of that irreverent indecency.

  5. soliloquy_sound May 23, 2003 at 1:15 am #

    Now this the kind of synopsis of books I enjoy, as much as plot-driven can sustain my enjoyment for some time, its the character depth that always compels me to keep reading. I’m impressed that this has been formulating for ten years: I think I would be wholly fed up with carrying around another character for that long!
    How far in are you? Have you submitted any of it for agent/publisher review so far?
    x

  6. neshaffer May 23, 2003 at 9:00 am #

    Writing, writing and writing!
    I think I would be wholly fed up with carrying around another character for that long!
    Well, I’ve had many other projects in the intervening years. It’s not like I worked on in continuously all that time. So I’m not quite sick of Valerie yet. Part of the reason for that is she and the story I am telling in the novel have evolved so much, it’s just not the same character or story that it was way back when. But on the other hand, I will be *so* glad when I get this thing done.
    How far in are you?
    I’ve gone through four complete drafts of it. The first three were pretty skeletal. The full, finished, “novel-like” 4th draft was completely a year ago, last May. Now I’m editing it in anticipation of being finally, finally finished with it. It’s 700 pages and needs to be cut back down considerably before I’m “done” though.
    Have you submitted any of it for agent/publisher review so far?
    Everything I’ve read about the fiction publishing biz says you do not submit a manuscript to an agent until it’s done. Since I’m not done, no, I haven’t. I did work with an “editor” getting the 4th draft in shape. She is a professional writer, not tied to the publishing industry, who I paid to read and comment on the draft as I wrote it over the course of two years (2000-2002).

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