Animal behaviorists know that if you don’t reward the mouse for getting through the maze, he won’t be so keen to scurry as quickly the next time. Along the same lines, I think I’ve already mentioned that one of the things I find most difficult about writing the novel is that there is no feedback at all. Blog posts get hits and comments, flash fiction is complete in a weekend and receives almost instantaneous reaction, even a short story can be completed in a reasonable period of time.
I’ve been writing Meet the Larssons since January 2, and until Thursday night, no other human had ever seen a word of it. I wrote 1700 words while on a plane on Thursday evening, a complete scene. I wasn’t entirely happy with the scene, but I didn’t think it was miserable dreck, either. I got home just in time to say goodnight to the kids before they went to bed, then had a couple of glasses of wine with the Mrs. The wine must’ve hit me hard, because I offered to show her the scene I’d completed on the plane, unedited. She accepted.
No fireworks, no belly laughs. It wasn’t a fireworks or belly laugh scene, just two people who don’t know each other well having a conversation in a bar, but the lack of any visible reaction made me crazy. I pestered her a couple of times until she told me to be quiet. Finally — FINALLY! — she finished. She said it was pretty good, but obviously rough, and some of the technical explanations could probably be cut, but without having read the previous 210 pages or so, it was hard to be sure. Not, in other words, a pile of miserable dreck. Then she read one screen’s worth of text from a previous chapter over my shoulder (I was checking something several chapters back), and she said she liked that even better. Go figure.
The important thing is that I got my cheese. I’m not completely wasting my time. I’ll get back in the maze now, and I’ll scurry as fast as I can, and I’ll twitch my nose the whole way.