Karen Brichoux

Current and Upcoming Books

Available Now
"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


The Muddle

October 7, 2006

October Newsletter from the desk of Karen Brichoux


*Article: The Muddle
*What Iím Reading


*FALLING INTO THE WORLD is a November RT Bookclub Top Pick in mainstream fiction! Sheri Melnick wrote that the book ďDraws the reader into the story and never lets go.Ē If I ever meet Sheri, Iím going to thank her for making my day. My month. What a great way to start magical October.

*If you would like to be added to my snail-mail mailing list to receive a postcard informing you of upcoming releases (this amounts to one postcard a year and is the only thing I will send you), send your address to email@karenbrichoux.com Please put ďmailing listĒ in the subject line. The amount of spam lately is making it difficult to figure out what is legitimate e-mail (this goes for all e-mail). I try to always respond when I receive an e-mail (even if it takes a few days), so if you donít get a reply, I probably didnít get your e-mail.

*Article: The Muddle

My father used to have a book on writing (a book that was left behind during a cross-Pacific move and that weíve never found again--it would help if we could remember the author or title) that outlined various plot possibilities. My fatherís favorite was ďGet your hero up a tree, throw rocks at him, get him out of the tree.Ē I am currently at the point in my draft where Iím lobbing great big honking rocks at my poor hero.

It seems like this would be the easy part of the book, right? It isnít. This is the part of the draft I call ďthe muddle.Ē Itís right after the middle of the book; right where the hero stops reacting to all the stones Iím throwing at him and starts acting. But how do I make that transition? Things have to build. Things have to happen. Conversations have to take place. And the whole thing is just a confused, smelly mess.

Have you ever stepped into a swampy area? One of those places where water sits on top of mud and rotten vegetation year round? Well, the muddle smells a lot like it smells when you disturb all that rotten muck. It stinks. The best I can do is acknowledge how bad the muddle smells. As Iím writing through the muddle, I chant over and over, ďThis stinks. I know it stinks. It stinks so badly my neighbors are going to all move away. But this isnít permanent. This is a draft. Once the story is finished, I will rewrite it. It will probably still stink, but right now, the smell isnít my problem.Ē

Itís taken nearly eleven novels (published and unpublished) to reach the point where I can continue writing the draft and not get hopelessly bogged down in the muddle. Notice that I donít say I donít get bogged down. I get bogged down. But I donít get hopelessly, helplessly, donít-write-for-weeks-depressed bogged down. I know that if I just keep writing pages every day, I will finish the draft; then, miraculously, the muddle will turn into a puddle during revisions. And stepping into a puddle is a lot more fun than stepping into a swamp.

*What Iím Reading:

Sadly, nothing has changed in my reading life--Iím too busy writing to read except for the books weíre reading as a family. Right now, weíre on Harry Potter IV. Other than that, all Iíve been reading is Science News, the newspaper, Fine Gardening, and a few paragraphs a night from an excellent book called START WITH THE SOIL, which is about organic gardening.