Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Periodic State of the Elfyverse

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Folks, it’s been a while, so it’s time for another “state of the Elfyverse” blog.

What’s going on with the Elfyverse right now is that I’m stalled in part 47 of AN ELFY ABROAD (the sequel to ELFY, which still hasn’t found a home).  I have figured out an alternate beginning to ELFY which may help me find an agent who’ll understand it and help me find a publisher, but I haven’t yet managed to get it down in a way that makes any more sense than what I already have.  (“May” being the operative word, of course.)  And I managed to get a few thousand words into the ELFY prequel, KEISHA’S VOW . . . mind you, KEISHA’S is a big-time prequel as it’s set in 1954 and ELFY is present-day.  (The dead characters in ELFY are alive and well in KEISHA’S, and it explains in part — or should, once completed — why one of the ELFY characters is such a mucked-up mess.)

Things get a bit more problematic when I start trying to fix an Elfyverse short story “Boys Night In,” as so far I’ve had comments like, “The dialogue makes no sense.”  “They get into this way too easily.”  “What’s the point of this again?” and so on.  (I did get high marks for humor from one test reader.  So I’m still doing something right.)  So that story is in need of extensive revision, perhaps to the degree Carolyn See recommends in her book MAKING A LITERARY LIFE, complete with the wine, the red pen, and more wine.

The good news is that I’m still hard after it; the bad news is that when I get stalled in a chapter (as I am in part 47 of EA) I just sit there until I figure out whatever’s bothering me.  This is a far different process than what I had while Michael was alive, as we were both writing the story then and talking things out with him — always an interested audience, even when I wasn’t writing an Elfyverse story of any kind — made big messes like this one get solved a little faster.  Or in this case, a lot faster as I’ve been stuck in the same place for at least three weeks.

Some of my friends who are authors write different things — say, a romance instead of a Western, or a hard SF story instead of a mystery — to break a hard block like this one.  I’ve tried that in the past and for whatever reason, unless I have a really good idea in a different genre that takes off, it just doesn’t work for me.  Whatever it is in my backbrain has to take its own, sweet time toward resolving itself, and then and only then can I get on with the business of writing.

While I’m doing all that, I continue to edit.  And, of course, I comment, I blog when the mood strikes me (or a really big story hits that I know I can’t pass on no matter how blocked I feel at the time), and I just let things play out as they will.

See, the best thing we can do when we’re stalled on a project is to continue to have faith in ourselves.  We’ve already written X words (in my case, probably well over 600,000 in the past seven years, and who knows how many before then?  Many, many, many.), and we’re going to write more, so why fret it?

Or, as Michael used to tell me, “If you can’t write today, you will write tomorrow.  And if you’re too ill to write tomorrow, you’ll write three times as much the next day.”  (He knew me very well, and he was always right about such things.)

The upshot is, it’s pointless to fret, even though it’s very human that we do so . . . and sometimes, the best “medicine” with a story is to completely get away from it (perhaps by what my other writer-friends have suggested by writing something completely different, or perhaps a change of scenery or a vacation away from the MSS) so you can come back at it afresh.

I’m doing my best to listen to Michael’s advice, as it was always good, and try to be patient with myself.  I’ve got a better shot that way at breaking the block in part 47, and then, once that’s gone, working on part 48 and winding up the first draft of EA, however many more chapters that’s going to be.  (I estimate seven.  But who really knows?)  Once I’ve done that — completely managed to get the whole EA story out of my head and onto the page — then I have a better shot at fixing “Boys Night In” and perhaps writing an alternate opening to ELFY that might increase its chances of finding an agent or publisher who’ll love it and can’t live without it.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

August 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm

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