"I'm a poet who also writes crime novels. One foot on the high road, one in the gutter. It makes for a lovely stride." James W. Hall "Poets Sinks to Crime," an essay in HOT DAMN!
Ah, yes, I'm still savoring the finely crafted writings of James W. Hall. Oh, I finished all his novels and his book of essays and even a few of his poems and short stories. Now, I'm rereading in what I call "Judi order": how the themes work best.
I did the same with John D. MacDonald. When I finished his final Travis McGee book, THE LONELY SILVER RAIN, I reopened THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE. And I was stunned to find parallels. Things mentioned at the last that had been mentioned in the first. But most of all, I found Travis McGee a richer character because I knew who he had become all those years later.
The same is true of Hall's Thorn. When I finished reading his latest Thorn adventure, SILENCER, I pitched myself back inside the pages of his debut, UNDER COVER OF DAYLIGHT. Great trip. Happily, Hall is again traisping through an adventure with his best know character in his own writing process.
But the arc I'm enjoying is with his Alexandra Collins character: BODY LANGUAGE (a stand alone novel), BLACKWATER SOUND, OFF THE CHART, and MAGIC CITY (these are Thorn novels).
As for my own writing, I'm 25k into a story outside my four-part HERITAGE series, though my evening writing times are devoted strictly to what I call H2, the second book in the Daniel and Johanna epic. I find it's not easy shifting back and forth because my characters jostle too hard for center stage in my mind.
The Hall readings have made me understand how important it is to do works outside a series. As much as I love the Thorn adventures, I find Hall's stand alones to be so very rich. I can see how they stretch him creatively. That's what I'm after: growth as a writer.
Meanwhile I about to box up HERITAGE and post it to the appropriate party. Big step here as I gulp down my fears. Feedback has been very encouraging and strong from my reliable first readers. Heck, I'm no newbie. I have stories published in several respected anthologies. So, we'll see...
Writer L. McKenna Donovan notes at her fine site that writers often "self-sabotage." http://lmdonovan.wordpress.com/yin-yang-of-writing-fiction/#comment-75 I think she's absolutely right.
For me, I'm out of here, fitting my own feet in different places, setting my own stride. If it is odd, if I limp, then I like to imagine I'm in good company. Imagining is what I love doing.