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Monday, January 21, 2008
Work-in-Progress Report #2: Elizabeth Buzzelli
From the remote and frozen shores of Starvation Lake, Elizabeth Buzzelli writes this account of her writing life in January 2008:
“I heard today that my deadline for the second book in the Emily Kincaid mystery series is March, not June, as I've been telling myself. So I frantically counted words and found I am within striking distance of the end---70,000 words written--and have no reason to panic. The way I work, when I've finished what should be a first draft it isn't really a first draft. I work back and forth---two steps forward, then back to see if the steps hold weight. At a little beyond the middle of the novel I go back to the beginning to see what I've forgotten, whose eyes I've changed from blue to brown, how I can strengthen the plot, and how badly my syntax has deteriorated. So, I've done that.
“The story is flowing. Emily Kincaid and her friend, Deputy Dolly Wakowski of the Leetsville police, are deeply involved in an old double murder. The bones have been analyzed. The sad remains have names. And now the women are desperately hunting for a murderer while at the same time Dolly is finding family and Emily considers remarrying her ex husband and moving back down state, to Ann Arbor.
“Winter is supposed to be a great time for writing. I live in a snow belt, a mile from where Gloria Whelan used to live. She wrote a book every winter, she once told me. I envied her then and envy her still. I stand at the window in my studio looking out at a monochromatic world with not a single passing fox, or deer, or turkey, and I wonder what normal people are doing--maybe playing in the snow, or gathering in coffee shops for wonderful conversations. I go back to my desk having settled into deep self-pity and pound out another paragraph before coming up with the bright idea of taking myself into town for lunch.
“Since there aren't many restaurants in the nearest town, lunch turns out to be a sandwich at Arby's, by myself because I haven't called anyone and don't really want company. I sit there and smile at the toddlers who meander past. Sometimes an elderly lady takes pity and says something nice. Mostly I read--a thing I could have done at home. Or do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. Then I brave the cold and snow and roads too dangerous to be on and go back home to slide down my driveway and go back to the studio and stand at the window and wish just one damn squirrel would come scalloping by.
“So, will I make the deadline? Of course. But it won't be due to a steady forward stream of perfect prose. It will be that last push: a chapter a day just as spring comes softly over the hill. I'll probably miss the intimations of hope. I'll miss the first pregnant fox passing on the other side of my meadow (which used to be a pond). I'll miss the orioles diving and the robins going crazy. I'll be in there, nose to the computer, doing rewrites and cursing all those heavenly winter days I frittered away.”
Elizabeth Buzzelli, who always gets her work done, has a non-mystery story entitled THE VW BOARDING HOUSE currently available for download on Amazon. You can read it, review it and recommend it for a publication prize. Her DEAD DANCING WOMEN (the first Emily Kincaid mystery) will be out in fall of 2008, and the sequel, DEAD FLOATING LOVERS, is the book currently nearing completion.