Thursday, October 03, 2013

"I'm amazed that you didn't know that"


First drafts are by far the hardest for me, and definitely my least favorite part of writing. When ideas just come, it's fun -- but that happens all too rarely and for me the whole process is very anxious. There are terrible times of writing drivel, just because I have to put something, and frustrating waits which feel like trying to catch the wind in a sailboat on a calm day --  just stuck because there isn't any.

So I am very relieved when I finally have a nice solid draft--maybe larded with drivel (all the things I had to put when I had to put SOMETHING), but all there.  Or mostly there.

As I rewrite, I fit pieces together and fill in blanks...I'll come upon a drivel scene (for me, that usually is two characters just chattering) and then (if I'm lucky) just KNOW what really happened there.

After I finished the not quite first, but first complete draft of this novel, I was bothered by one scene, the scene the whole book had been leading towards! It read as a real letdown and I fretted about it for a few days.

While I was taking a shower what was supposed to be there just popped into my mind. I wrote it, then celebrated by getting driven to what I find the most beautiful end of the island

and walking all the way back to the village with a friend. We stopped at two people's houses for a cup of tea on the way, but we did walk the whole way (about 8 miles, I reckon).

I don't usually talk about my work to people here, but I was so excited about what had just come to me that I had to tell her.

She said, first, that "I can see it perfectly" and "I love it," and then:

"But how could you write the whole book without knowing that?"

and, later, she kept bringing this up:

"I'm amazed that you didn't know that."

It didn't seem that odd to me-- it was what was in the box, and the heroine didn't know until that point, so why did I need to? I knew what it was made of, I knew what effect it had -- I just didn't know what it was.

And to me this didn't seem odd at all; one of the things I learned about my process from this book is that I like to know most of the characters before I start writing, and know where the story starts and where it's going; but it's better to have things to discover in the middle.

That's not fun when you don't know what they are, but when you find out, it's very satisfying.

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