On Dog Ears, Speculative Fiction, & Plot Control

For those of you following Lucy-dog’s ear amputation saga, the surgery went well last week, and she’s recovering nicely. I think once she gets past the inevitable itchy-healing stage, she’ll be much happier with life in general (and I’m quite sure she’s already more comfortable than she was, even with the pain and stitches). I’m home with her for a couple more days just to make sure her painkillers are well meted out, her blood glucose is as regulated as it can get with the drugs, and that the itching is kept to a minimum so she doesn’t pull her stitches out.

I’m relieved, personally – just making the decision on whether to amputate or euthanize was incredibly stressful, and the last thing I wanted to do was cause her more discomfort if there wasn’t going to be a long-term benefit. We’ll have to wait for the lab results before we know more about that, but things are relatively optimistic at the moment.

Which means I can turn my non-work-related focus back to more fun things to ruminate on, such as my current novel draft and how the heck to categorize it when I’m referring to it. I’ve been struggling to actually write anything for the past several weeks, but my brain likes organization and categorization, and I do actually want to try to sell this novel when I’m done writing it, which means it needs a genre/category. Yes, I know – write the book first, categorize later. Great advice that is just going to stress me out, because I love having things all neat and tidy in my head.

In any case, I went browsing for genres and definitions this weekend, and I’ve decided after much hemming and hawing that Donteneoux’s Dragon fits best in the Speculative Fiction (Spec Fic, for short) genre. It’s not fantasy, it’s not sci-fi, it’s not horror, and it’s not dystopian, but contains a pinch of this and a dash of that from those various genres that together make up the spec fic category.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but just having that set in my head is a relief. And happily enough, spec fic is a pretty broad term/category that encompasses many things, so slapping that particular label on my draft isn’t limiting in the least – it just defines the plot I already have laid out.

One other thing has been bugging me about DD, and that has to do with plot. I was writing along last week (I have gotten a few words in here and there recently), and the plot took an unexpected turn, and as a serial writer, I’ve sort of trained myself not to see this as a bad thing, but it is something that will affect the entire plot of the novel going forward in all sorts of odd and somewhat unsettling ways. It’s raised a few questions that I’ve been pondering since last week, trying to decide how the story logic will work given these new developments, and how I might steer the character along the storyline I have in my head. My poor logical/critical brain has been trying to “fix” the story, when really it isn’t even broken, it just took an unexpected turn.

The thing is, I’m not normally a writer who tries to control her characters…I let them do what they will, and that’s largely how I “discover” the story. I don’t tell the characters who to be either – I let them tell me who they are. That’s what makes writing fun for me – I don’t write the story myself, per se, I “hear about” a story in my head, and then I ask the characters to tell me how it “really” happened. But the impetus to keep the story on what I think should be the right track has been strong lately, and I think that’s what’s been holding me up with the writing more than anything.

But with the Lucy situation stressing me out and things at work being remarkably busy, I’ve been grasping for any little bits of control that I can get, no matter where that happens to be, because feeling like I have control of any little thing, no matter how small, alleviates some of the mental pressure from other areas of my life (call it a release valve of sorts – other control freaks will understand). It’s spilled over into my writing, and that is exactly the wrong mindset I need for discovering a story.

Thankfully, the other stresses I’ve got going on are slowly easing up, which gives me more of that illusion of control I seem to need. And I think I can finally go back to my draft now, and let Peraine continue telling me his story without trying to meddle and “fix” what isn’t broken.

I love that. Because I really, really want to know what happens next, and the only way to find out, is to write it.