Crossing the Bridge (no, not THAT bridge)

I am fifteen days away from imminent knee breakage, and I am getting a bit worried. The book is at the 60,000 word mark, and I am working on it as time permits (and yes, I know, if you’re a professional writer reading this you’re thinking “WHAT? When time permits! What the fruitbat does that mean??” What it means is I have another job, thank you, and writing is a hobby Imagefor me.).

Plus, spring is slowly beginning to arrive in Kansas. Very, very slowly. And on nice days when I’m not working, I’m out taking photographs. Like this one.

I know this is going to be a reach, but I think this photograph, of the old iron bridge in Blackwell, Oklahoma, really symbolizes what this latest writing venture has been like for me. The bridge has been closed for ages and is blocked with big orange roadblocks and piles of gravel. Driving across it is impossible; walking is probably okay, but who knows?

That’s what this novel has been like for me.

Sure I could crawl across the gravel, duck under the barriers, and walk this bridge. See where it gets me. I’m sure my weight wouldn’t be enough to send it all crashing to the river below. But it sure would be nerve-wracking. It seems like a very long walk, though.

When I decided to break my novel into two, I knew it would mean creating an entirely new storyline for Book 1. Book 2 would remain largely the same, though there would be holes and it would require a new beginning and some more rising action in the middle. But Book 1 would be the new introduction to my characters. They would need to get to know each other in new and different ways. New interactions would have to be created. I knew they were on board with this — heck, they’re the ones who kept telling some Something Was Wrong — but it was so daunting! Exciting, but I was full of anxiety. Exactly like this bridge. I can see the other side. It’s getting there that’s the problem.

But I’m working on it. It’s slowly coming together, as characters are stepping up to the plate and taking on roles I never expected they would, suggesting things I hadn’t dreamed would happen. I am still concerned about the interactions between my main characters — they know each other so well by now, it’s hard for all of us to think about “okay, but what about those first few weeks when Erin moved into your house and she didn’t want you there, Kai, and you didn’t want her there? What happened then?” For them, too, their relationship is a lot like walking across this bridge. Dangerous. Shaky. It could collapse under them. Or it might not. And when they get to the other side . . . what then?

That’s sort of my question, too, about this entire novel. How many rewrites? How much editing? Will I have to cross this bridge again and again — and if so, how many chances do I get?

But, I’ve got 15 days.

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