Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meandering in the semi-dark

I got up at 6:30 today to write. Lit the candles, made tea, sat down. The dark was both external (the dawn doesn't come until well past 7:30 now if the sky is cloudy) and internal as I can't quite see my way clear with the story.

The first two novels I wrote, I wrote pretty quickly (about a year each). The stories were unknown to me as they spun themselves but they unfolded in a very straightforward and linear way. I kept asking "What happens next?" and before too long, some intriguing and feasible answer would present itself to me and I'd work with it and write another chapter. I had to go back once the draft was done and reorder a little and fill in some gaps blanks, but the story unscrolled like a lovely Chinese poem.

This new novel is different. Ideas are coming at me from all sides like an unruly classroom of kids waving their hands and shouting "Pick me, pick me." Or a fork in the road with a half-dozen choices equally scary, equally delicious in their beckoning.

Some of the dilemma is in sorting out how to present a large amount of back story for three characters who come together and separate and come together and separate in a somewhat chaotic dance. Equally enticing are the three characters, each with a fascinating point of view. And whispering in the back of my mind is Durrell's Alexandria Quarter, with its retelling of one story by different characters.

I sat this morning for about 15 minutes of my precious hour vacillating. And then I followed the advice I give all the writers I coach. Write a scene, any scene. It will take you in and you will find your way.

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