Sunday, November 23, 2008

Things I Should Know

David is such an alien creature to me that I find myself Googling the most ridiculous things. Things I'm certain I should know already, like "Do running shorts have pockets?" and "How long does it take an avid runner to cover three miles?"

I was explaining to a friend why Chapter 3 has had such a long gestation period, and she asked if I could just skip it and come back to it. I thought about that, actually. I could skip laying the groundwork and get right to the fun parts where MarLo, Claire, and David are already acquainted and I am free to write their interesting and often humorous interactions, but I'm not going to do it. I have recorded some dialog exchanges just so I won't forget them later, so those will eventually be integrated into the narrative, but those will be the easy writes, the reward for having gotten past all of the hard stuff. Besides, if I write a lot of material to fit into the later chapters before I figure some key elements out (like what I'm struggling with right now, working through where David is in his academic career and what his relationship with his mother is) and some things surprise me (like how David and his mother are on much easier terms than I'd originally thought, owing mainly to Elizabeth's sheer generosity of spirit) then I'll either have a continuity error that will confuse the tone of the book, or I'll have wasted a lot of time and effort on what will end up being an outtake that gets dumped from the final manuscript, and as I'm not a professional writer, I do not have the luxury of writing dross. So in answer to my friend, I simply said, "No, I can't skip ahead and come back to this later. These are things I have to know." The groundwork I'm laying now informs David's character to such a degree that omitting it would inevitably cause major confusion. It is central to David's dilemma. I am trying to relate that an astronomically high IQ, excellent grades and steady income do not guarantee academic success. So much depends on emotional intelligence, work ethic and self-motivation.

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