In movies, a writer sits down at the computer or better yet, typewriter, loads a fresh page and types a title then a byline. The writer, hungry to tell a story, begins at the beginning.
I've always found this a delightful fantasy. The implication, if one can begin with a title and then the beginning, is that one knows the arc of the story - knows its shape and contents before writing.
I wish I could do that.
My writing style is messy and disorganized. I get through entire drafts before I start to understand what it is I'm doing, where the story is, what's important.
I put my novel away for a while. I felt it slipping down a long, long hallway. It was going off to lock itself in a private room and live alone, quietly humming to itself, but decidedly out of my way. I engaged with a nonfiction project instead, decided to give it priority status.
A few days ago I realized the nonfiction piece was treading into the novel territory. But what did this mean? Was the novel actually memoir or was the nonfiction asking to be fictionalized?
I allowed myself a few minutes of panic - the realization that I might have to chuck an entire first draft of a novel and start over and the paralysis of not knowing "the answer" - then, epiphany.
I got everything out, all the pages, both of the projects, and listened.
I know how to fix the novel now. It's getting a heart transplant.
I think we both just needed some time apart.
(Let the coffee making begin.)
...psst...this blog is going to be moving over here. please join me...