“Age of Vice” by Deepti Kapoor is a sweeping epic of an India reaching toward the future while saddled with the shadows of its past. I’ve read a few chonkers lately that could have been 600 pages instead of 400 but not so with this book. Kapoor’s prose and characters had me hooked from the start.
This is the story of Sunny Wadia, a tragic anti-hero who’s a sort of Indian Gatsby, living under the thumb of his ultra-rich gangster father who runs a seedy chain of liquor stores. It’s also the story of a cast of characters that are all richly drawn, their motives and flaws vividly imagined. It’s his rise as a naive party boy who just wants his father’s love to his fall after he attains the one thing he’s ever wanted, for his father to understand he can be ruthless too.
There are no villains in this story, not really; no winners and losers, just a complicated portrait of pain and tragedy. This was an action-packed thriller but it was more characters and backdrop than defined plot.
Kapoor’s prose was my favorite part of the whole book. Haunting, lyrical, crisp and economical, she had me gutted from each chapter. This is a real tour de force, a gritty, glitzy epic that devastated me. Highly recommend.
Truth is, I don’t feel like I really did make much progress over the last week, but I don’t want you to think I have given up like past years, so here I am, faithfully checking in.
I skipped four days because I was so exhausted. Haven’t been sleeping well and felt like I’d be forcing creativity if I made myself sit down and write. It’s always a balancing act between forcing yourself and making yourself do something instead of coming up with excuses, I think. But one day passed into the next until it was four days.
However, I have since caught up over the weekend, and now I’ve hit 20,387 words, so I’m happy with that. Slow progress is still progress, and there is hope even if you have not made huge gains like others. I usually give up after 20,000 words, thinking my first draft isn’t worth pursuing, I lose interest in my characters and I think I can’t possibly add enough conflict. 20,000 words is my usual wall. But this time I am determined to stick with this till the end.
That to me will be a win for me, because in past years, I’ve given up by now, seeing how far along everyone else got and how I’ll never catch up. I will be plugging away every day until November 30 and I’ll feel accomplished.
So my next goal is to make it past 25,000 words this week. I have a four-day weekend for the American Thanksgiving holiday coming up, and no big plans other than a small dinner with my partner, so I should have plenty of time to catch up, or keep going. All I care about right now is not quitting. I can do this! And you can do it, too, if you are sticking with it and also behind like me.
I’ve had such a spotty track record with indie novels this year, hit or miss and generally veering on the miss, that when I run across the gems I have to leave a review. I really enjoyed “Sweetland” by Dareth Pray, a gripping thriller about a CIA operative going deep undercover in a domestic terrorism plot.
I loved the author’s character development. Erin Stark was as promised, a badass spy woman from beginning to end. I liked the very plausible take of a highly organized crew of redneck militiamen and fringe far right groups annexing Tennessee and engaging in sex trafficking, infiltrating local sheriff’s offices and the far reaches of government along the way. It spoke to the times and a threat I think isn’t taken seriously enough. Though in the real life scenario I am not sure the government would have the means to fight back, but that’s the pessimist in me.
I could tell that the author had done her research or had some intelligence training and experience because the descriptions of intelligence work rang with authenticity, although the pacing got somewhat bogged down by granular detail on operational methods. I also enjoyed the use of present tense that put the reader into a more immediate sense of place with the action. In some of the present tense sections, however, there was some distracting tense switching inconsistencies that could have been better edited, but largely the author’s copy was well edited.
Overall, this was a fun, fast-paced ride. I usually expect glamorous international missions from spy thrillers and enjoyed instead the fresh take on a homegrown mission in the heartland. This author is definitely one to watch.
Commencing Week Two of National Novel Writing Month. I am still feeling good about my project but this is usually the time I give up on my WIPs. I see how much further along everybody is in their manuscripts and I give into the pressure. I’ll never catch up so why bother? But since I started off slow with 500-1,000 a day word counts, and I didn’t anticipate I’d actually make the 50,000 words, I am giving myself grace and using those power word counts from the community as motivation instead. I need it to light a fire under my belly to keep going and push through.
I have failed in my goal to write every day, however, but that is okay. I skipped the 14th, when I was exhausted after going out of town to visit friends. I also skipped the 10th. But because I know I’m playing catch-up I am using that as fuel to stay consistent with my daily writing sessions since then. Sometimes you need to make yourself sit down and write even when you’re tired, like making yourself go to the gym when you really don’t feel like it; other times it is better to rest, instead of to force creativity.
However, right now it feels like I’m endlessly playing catch up. But I am really proud of my progress so far.
I am currently at 17,299 words in my psychological thriller, and I have ramped up my daily word count sessions from 500 words a day to 1k-2k words a day. My goal is to exceed 25,000 by the end of this week. I feel like the momentum is lagging in this part of the plot and I need to raise the stakes and increase the external conflict and action, so I am planning on taking some notes to inspire me to push through the rest of the next milestone. I usually don’t outline much, I just daydream my way through; but I don’t want to write a bunch of muddled, boring chapters just for the sake of a word count that I will have to cut later. The word count isn’t as important as whether the words are good, and if the words are good it will motivate me to keep going.
That said, I am not getting bogged down by editing as I go. For me, as I am a perfectionist, that is a sure way to get mired in an endless loop of perfectionism. For instance, I realized a different POV served my story better; I switched to writing it in first person present tense. The first 10,000 words are all in third person limited, but that is too much work to change that as I go. I will never get anywhere in the plot.
The challenge now is since it’s a psychological thriller, I feel it needs to take place in a confined area. In this instance, it’s a haunted ryokan. So I am taking notes and daydreaming, visualizing my story as a movie, to try to increase the conflict even in a tight physical space.
But overall I am feeling good about my project. I am not giving up. I just need to be consistent and write every day because it’s fun and I need to know what happens next. If I am in suspense, the reader will find it unpredictable, too. This is part of what I find joyful about discovery writing, without a detailed plan to guide you. It is a more visceral, nerve-wracking way to write, and it’s what I need to keep myself interested in the story. It doesn’t have to be perfect; the magic happens in the editing. I just need to get the bones down.
Hope your Nano projects are going well. If you’re flagging, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your goals or your plot. Hang in there writers!