Homestead (which I wrote under my real world name) seems a long time ago, and in fact it is about eight years since I finished it. These days I’m remembering more clearly what it was like to work on Homestead, because while Tied to the Tracks is very different in tone, subject and approach, I’m finding that I run into the same craft issues that I did writing Homestead. These are problems that don’t apply to the Wilderness novels, for some reason I can’t really pinpoint.
With Homestead I would get stuck for days until I realized that I had been trying to force the narrative in a direction that didn’t really work. Once I identified the spot where I had gone wrong (which usually meant admitting that I was being manipulative, and that I couldn’t ignore the fact that the characters were protesting), I fixed it, and things moved on.
Tied to the Tracks is working the same way. I inch along slowly, and often have to backtrack and reassess and rewrite. And just now, at this very moment, I realize why this is happening. It doesn’t happen with the Wilderness novels because I know those characters so well. It’s very rare that I misstep with them, whereas the TTTT characters are still new to me in most ways. I’ll never know them the way I do the Wilderness people, because once this novel is finished (and I’m at 65,000 words in a 100,000 word novel) they’ll go on about their lives and I won’t be sticking my nose in anymore.
Should this realization make me more comfortable? I’ll think about that, but right at this moment, it does not.