I’m taking a break from furious keyboard wrangling to update with progress about LAIR OF DREAMS.
My first thought is, can I still call it progress? Doesn’t feel like progress. Feels like I am eating an enormous word salad. And sometimes I say, “Yep, that avocado is good in here,” and “In retrospect, baked salmon and Reese’s peanut-butter cups have no place together in this salad. Also, I might need to vomit now.”
As you may know from previous blogs, this book has been a bitch-and-a-half to write. I have never struggled so much or despaired so greatly. This is how it is sometimes. Typical conversations with writer friends tend to go like this:
Friend: So that tunnel thing sounds really scary.
Me: Yeah? Thanks!
Friend: So, I have to know: What’s in the tunnel?
Me: No idea.
Friend: …er, but it’s a central part of your plot.
Me: *smiling unsteadily * Uh-huh. I know.
Friend: But you don’t know what it is?
Me: Nope. Not yet. *guzzles Maalox straight from the bottle *
And so on.
A friend of mine, a singer, always says that the voice “reveals itself.” And that is how I feel about writing novels: The story reveals itself over time. Now, it doesn’t do this magically. It does so in fits and starts, in frustratingly small increments and, occasionally, in “A-ha!” thunderclap moments. And it only does this after you’ve put in the exhausting labor, after days upon days spent sitting at your laptop or notebook, moving one sentence from page 12 to page 14 and back again, deleting whole scenes and writing new segments that finally seem to bridge the disparate ideas zipping around in your head like futuristic cars. (BTW, where are those cars we were promised? Could somebody get on that? Thanks.)
And as you write, these are always the questions: How can I make this better? How can I sew that seam tighter? How can I connect this part to that part more cohesively? How can I take this seemingly small scene between two characters and sink it more deeply into the larger thematic fabric of the novel? Am I really getting down to the grit and humanity of these characters? Am I questioning enough, or am I still skating across the surface? How do I deal with this novel’s particular “Big Bad” storyline while also building in the architecture for various character threads and the overall story arc?
And: Am I having fun? (Honestly, that’s super important.)
So, as I struggle to answer all of those questions, to build the architecture for books #3 and #4 while trying to maintain the integrity of book #2, I’m trying to find the patience to let the story reveal itself. And to hope that I am paying attention when it does.