I have 27 days and 27 nights left until my self-imposed deadline for completing my YA novel is upon me! The lack of hours isn't what's scaring me, though. It's the fact that my once sweet, simple love story has drifted over to the dark side and become something I hadn't seen coming. Which is ironic because the book's main theme is facing our fear of the unknown. And I've got some serious Unknown-O-Phobia right now. Isn't that like art imitating life imitating art or something? I don't know. Maybe I've been chewing on too many licorice sticks.
All I know is that these new ideas are popping out of my head and shooting through my fingers into the keyboard and splattering onto the computer screen and creating a story that is very different from the one that is so neatly outlined on my giant dry erase board. The story now has more tension, more adventure, more stakes, and more...well, um...freaky stuff. But, see, this didn't start out as a freaky story. And I didn't think I had it in me to write freaky stuff. Don't get me wrong...it's not like Saw or Halloween or The Strangers freaky stuff. It's more like "M. Night Shyamalan / I see dead people" weird stuff. And that kind of story excites me and creeps me out at the same time.
My dilemma now is...Do I continue on this Stephen King route? Or do I delete everything I've written in the last 48 diet coke-intoxicated hours and return to my Nicholas Sparks roots? It's a tough one. Sweet and simple? Or tense and freaky? Light and breezy? Doomed and dark? I'd like to think of myself as a pretty light and silly person. But, in truth, I tend to be drawn to darker books. For some reason, darker and more serious books make me think harder and stay with me longer than lighthearted books.
Of course, when I sprung these new ideas on my critique group partners yesterday, I think they were a little perplexed. The consensus was that while the new tone and plot points are certainly riveting, they don't fit with the original vision of the book. My problem is that the original vision was feeling a bit boring and stale to me, and the shake up injected new life into the story. And it's exciting to think of this novel as a new, never been done before, strange, but compelling (in a train wreck kind of way) project.
The artist in me tells me to take a risk and blow it out and go with the freaky-deaky flow. But the practical side of me tells me to keep it simple, stick to the vision and finish the sappy love story. Not sure. Maybe filling my body with more guar gum, red dye and artificial carmel coloring will give me some clarity.