There is a book called ‘The World According to Garp’.
It’s not an obscure novel so you might know it. Written by a guy named John Irving, who has written and published several pieces of interesting fiction. Some have even been made as movies. I think this one was made into a movie, and had several major actors star in it.
In the book I reference, the main character is TS Garp. TS Garp is an author. His mother, Jenny, a nurse, also becomes a writer. But her process irritates Garp (as I remember it) because she never seems to indulge in the silence of thinking and editing. She’s always hammering the typewriter.
I often think of that because I love that silence, when I drop a still bomb on my existence, cross my arms and stare out the window to think, where do I go today?
That summarizes my situation. I just finished a major piece of the pirates’ tale. Today, I’m thinking, do I continue writing the pirates’ arcs or do I turn to Pram and his team’s activities, or back to Brett and his role? Each have beginnings and middles to further develop in the push toward climax and denouement. The arcs all seem equally easy and difficult to write, that paradox of writing tension where you’re on a peak, trying to capture the lightning. But I’ve been spending so much time with Handley and her captain and crew, I’ve really enjoyed their company and know them so well. I wonder, how important is that? I know Brett very well, too, but he is a more complicated person, in a complex situation, and yet is the novel’s largest cog. But Pram’s POV offers a major twist and I’ve been sitting on the edge of that for several weeks, letting it brew.
So I sit in personal silence amid the coffee shop’s music and conversations, meditating to a degree about which story to take up. That’s actually a lame description of the process. I open the book in my mind and return to each arc’s place where I paused. Consideration of where they’re stopped and what’s to happen next is studied. From that process, one aspect gathers a stronger brightness, a sharper focus, a more immediate presence. My mind takes up its mental pen. I begin to see and hear words. Words become sentences. Scenes flower.
Then I know where to go, what to write, and I begin again, to write like crazy, at least one more time. Often it’s the middle of a scene. It may not even be ‘connected’ with what’s already written. I know I can write such bridges later. I’m interesting in writing down the bones. I’ll add verisimilitude and substance in the immediate edit. The immediate edit is the stage I conduct after completing a scene, just part of building continuity and managing pace and story.
In that marvelous way that brains can work, my thought processes are segregated and compartmentalized, and while I’ve been thinking about this post and my process and writing, I’ve been thinking about the novel and the aspects I’ve described. From these ruminations have arisen the next piece to write.
Here I go again. It is such a wonderful high, the sort of moments that you hope will never end….