Puzzling It Out

 

 

Back in January of this year, I had an idea that excited me. In this case, the idea arrived as a dream at night, while I slept. Into my dreams was inserted a title, April Showers 1921, along with a gold embossed cover. I knew April Showers. I wasn’t certain what 1921 was about. (I now know what 1921 means in this context, and it was a surprise.) That didn’t deter me. I began to write.

E.L. Doctorow

Scenes emerged like mushrooms after heavy summer rains. I had ideas about what this story was about. I brainstormed in search of explanations and coherency. I drove forward, headlights blazing, through a dark countryside of thought, although I turned down made several wrong roads, and occasionally went off a cliff.

Characters, scenes, and the concept grew in understanding, although not at the same rate. As they grew, details gained substance. Storylines arced. Characters gained dimensions and complexities. Their stories expanded.

As I thought, wrote like crazy, listened to the muses, and sometimes argued with them, a novel took shape. One day, I thought, I can see the end of this. I can smell the end of it, if you will. It was a strange sensation of anticipation and completion.

It was a false impression, like seeing the Rocky Mountains on the plains ahead as I drove west across Kansas and thought, oh, we’ll be there in a few hours. The immensity fooled me. Terry Pratchett and others stated, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” I’ve written a few novels by now, but each novel is unique, so I need to learn the work-in-progress and what’s required. What I had really reached was a complete understanding of the novel.

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

I’m still in search of the first draft but now I see and know the entire story. Most of the pieces have been created, but now, understanding the story, I need to put them together in the proper order, adding more pieces to complete the picture, and other pieces to finish the tale.

When I began, I created a folder, “April Showers 1921”. Eleven documents reside in it. Two are brainstorming documents. One is the novel in progress, and the rest are trails that went nowhere, or side bar information. I didn’t expect April Showers 1921 to take the turns that it did; my headlights didn’t let me see that far ahead.

As always, it’s a fun ride, fun and challenging. I love the process of exploring and discovering, and then trying to write what I’m seeing and hearing, what I’m witnessing. 

Patricia Cornwell

It’s been a good day of writing like crazy, but the coffee is gone, my ass feel sore from sitting, and my brain feels wiped out from reading and writing. Time to stop, at least for now.

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