What is happening in Cathy's Town?
Last night, at a ridiculously late hour, I read through my work-in-progress, which began as a largely seat-of-the-pants narrative. After about 6,000 words and some research on Nevada, Smith & Wesson revolvers (.44 caliber Russians...thanks for the idea, Elmore Leonard), and the Aleut people and Alaska) , I wrote a new opening scene that sets the entire story of fire!
So far the Characters for Cathy's Town: Piano Players, Gunslingers, and Widows include:
- a woman and a Russian Orthodox Priest priest fleeing from the Northwest to the East Coast with a major problem in Nevada, during 1880 plus or minus a few years,
- her son that must find her, protect her, and admit that his father died in a gun battle with a rival family,
- a piano player with a mysterious Civil War and Reconstruction history,
- a young woman running a frontier empire with only her intelligence, courage, and desire to be the richest widow west of the Mississippi,
- and some bad-ass Cossacks bent on revenge in the American West
I am enjoying the creative process on this project so much that it takes everything I have not to publish the book in blog posts as it is written. Fortunately, I learned the pitfalls of that method once before and will not publish until the story is a great as it can be and I have contracted a professional editor.
Last week I began to write a western and loved every inspired second of the process. There was a mixture of seat-of-the-pants writing and pre-planning stuff (beats, or at least that is what Platt, Truant, and Wright call it), and some research (on-the-fly as I went stuff). The project feels both ambitious and natural.
So what is the problem?
I am in the middle of several projects and awoke with feelings of dread and guilt that I was being irresponsible by constantly starting new things. I set a minimum amount of time that would be spent on the original project, not really expecting to have time for other stories.
Happily, I was able to dig back into my western just before midnight. After a day of banging my head against a project that has tortured me for almost a year, the fresh and exciting story premise of Cathy's Town was like a divine gift. I feel so much better now and happy writers sleep better, I hope. Chances are that in an hour or two I will wake up with some random idea and chew on it until I just get out of bed.
My goal is to keep the first draft clean, and by clean I am in no way referring to sexual content. I have a tendency to move writing platforms. Scrivner's the best! No, move it all into word. Hey, what about Google Docs. All right, let's reformat for Scrivner.
If all goes according to plan, I will write Cathy's Town: Piano Players, Gunslingers, and Widows in Google Docs, with periodic back-up dumps into Scrivner for the next stage of the process. The first draft should be done without starting over twenty times.
Wish me luck.
Benjamin Walker Colt
Writes westerns driven by suspense, strong characters in bad situations, and the panoramic greatness of the adventurous age.