Scott D. Parker
Welcome to Leap Day. It's an extra day for the year, and an extra day to prepare before the new month starts tomorrow.
I might have mentioned this before, but as consequential New Year's Resolutions can be, New Month Resolutions can also be helpful. I tend not to think of them as resolutions. Instead, the starts of new months are opportunities to begin a new project or, in my case, re-start a stalled book.
The Benefits of a Fallow Period
I started the novel as part of NaNoWriMo and I made excellent progress. But I hit a snag in December and stopped writing. I didn't think much of it. December is a time for Christmas movies and books and TV specials and music. Besides, I told myself, I'd just pick up the tale on New Year's Day.
Again, I shrugged. I had just stared a new-to-me book--Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz--and I decided to read more than write. I'd get back to my own book soon enough.
That didn't happen either.
Then, I started to wonder why I didn't jump back on the book. I started to edge towards chastising myself for not writing. I stopped short. There was a reason I wasn't writing, and I decided to ride that wave.
When February started, I thought I'd get back to the book. Didn't. I kept reading, moving on to The Nowhere Man, the second Orphan X novel, and added the first few issues of the famous comic book series MASTER OF KUNG FU. I enjoyed reading and, frankly, enjoyed not writing.
But as late February took hold, I began to feel that pull. It felt good. To get myself back on track, I re-read my manuscript, and two things happened.
One, I read the story and enjoyed it. I saw the better writing, could see my progress as a writer from where I was five years ago. I actually smiled at more than one part.
The second thing was I saw what got me off track. I read and edited as I went. I made an outline on paper, keeping notes of things to fix. By the time I got to where I stopped, I knew exactly what I needed to do to course correct this book.
And I can't wait until tomorrow when I jump back on the book and move forward.
This week, the world lost a great writer.
I came to Clive Cussler late and via his Isaac Bell series. I knew about Dirk Pitt and his adventure series, but only read a book or two. Maybe only one. I think I've read one or two of the other series as well.
Isaac Bell, on the other hand, well, I'm literally listening to the latest book, Titanic Secret, when I learned of Cussler's passing. I love the Bell series and the historical settings.
I'm not the only one who loved Cussler's books. Millions of readers have loved the adventures Cussler pens. This week, as word of his passing spread over the internet, I enjoyed reading what Cussler meant to these readers. What really made me smile was reading how Cussler was the author lots of dads read.
As a writer, however, I grew to appreciate and study how Cussler structured his books. I listened to almost all of them--narrated by the excellent Scott Brick--but I would constantly take notes. I would realize how excited or tense I was during certain passages and then go back and study those passages to figure out why.
For me, reading a Cussler book was not only an adventure, it was an education.
Rest in peace, Mr. Cussler, and thanks for all the stories.