Mind on Shuffle

Sometimes, my mind is like an MP3 player.

Okay, maybe my mind is like an MP3 player quite frequently.

Anyway, a novelista wants her mind on repeat. If her mind is on repeat, then she’s working on one novel (or other writing-related project, like editing) and nothing else. If her mind is on shuffle, then she’s bouncing from concept to manuscript to a back-burnered piece to a poem and maybe back to the original concept…and nothing gets done. Ever.

Guess whose mind is on shuffle?

So I’m thinking a lot about dystopian fiction, lately. Like most readers, I started with The Giver many years ago. But I read it so young that nothing ever really stuck with me until we re-read it in English 10. Everyone else said we were lucky…that we didn’t have to read the boring books assigned by the department veterans. But I have to tell you…you might not think yourself so lucky when you’re suddenly discussing euthanasia, social control and the other finer points of the book that a fifteen year old is more capable of understanding than, say, a seven year old.

And then I read Animal Farm. (I don’t see how that was dystopian, but I see it listed as such in quite a few places.) Then the sequels to The Giver (which weren’t nearly as good). Then Matched and Crossed. Then the Hunger Games trilogy. DivergentReachedThe Selection. Now I’m re-reading Divergent to see if I like it any better before trying Insurgent. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of The Elite next month, even though the formulaic nature of The Selection made it kind of obvious where the trilogy is going.

Honestly, I don’t know why I like this genre (or sub-genre?) if it’s all the same in the long run. Little Miss Nobody gets into Something Big and the whole world changes because of it. Actually, the fact that Ally Condie made Cassia middle class (or maybe even upper-middle-class, given that her father was an Official) was a nice change when you think of girls like Katniss and America and how poor they were before the Big Thing gave them more money. (Though just having finished The Selection, I’m starting to think America was a bit better off than Katniss ever was.) I don’t know why I want in, not when it’s the “it genre” right now. Vampires are so dead (or undead, as the case may be)! Everyone wants to do something dystopian now. Which is why it’s a good thing that I don’t have an idea for a novel/series. I’m sure that as I sit here typing this, every last idea in the genre is either out there or being finished off by some other author in the world.

I want to say I have an idea, but that’s an understatement. I don’t have “an” idea, I have plural ideas. Thanks to something biomom said several years ago, I have a whole accordion folder full of ideas! The trouble is, nothing consigned to the folder has ever turned into a novel…at least not yet. Yes, Ophelia and Broken Road spent time in there, but I don’t think they were ever completely filed away like the others; they simply had their excess chapters, notes and research stored in there until I felt safe in shredding everything.

I know I’m disappointing the sixty or more people who came by to read the excerpt from Elizabeth after Moo retweeted me (plus my friend Katie, who is now the proud owner of the first and second annotated editions of Ophelia), but I really have no idea where I’m going with it. I have a vague idea of what I want to do, but Elizabeth is not like Ophelia, where I had the movies (and the interregnums) to string together into a plotline. I hope I have better luck with Thalassa…but I’ve had the same (disliked) title for that going on three years now!

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