“How do you write?” I’m asked that question at various times. There’s never a simple answer.
My bottom line response: Any way I can manage it.
I joked the other day to my poet friend Tracey that Conventions (code phrase: “the magnum opus”) is “chaos in creation.” I’ve learned after three books and especially now well into this fourth, which is a vastly more complicated writing effort in numerous ways than were the first three, that its outline is merely “first contact with the enemy.” The effort evolves.
I’ve found myself altering the novel’s opening dramatically. Characters have changed, or been reduced in importance, or dropped entirely, or new ones have been added. I find I’m sometimes driven by fictional events into needing unexpected new fictional events. Matters may take on a “life” entirely of their own.
I am also quite restricted by time and place. I am writing an entirely “real” world. I can’t invent a magic spell to get me out of a plot or time problem. As I’ve attached fictional people to the lives and timeframes of formerly living people, I have to be forever mindful of the actual historical calendar and what the then living were actually doing and where they were doing it.
Considering the overall manuscript as a whole just before I left for America back on October 18, I realized a major character was somehow largely absent from the final quarter or so of the book. I was FURIOUS with myself. I came close to smashing my head down on the desk repeatedly.
After I counted ten, I told myself it was not the end of the world. Perhaps I could make a positive out of that “error?” I reconsidered the dilemma for a few days and a solution hit me while in America: I simply wrote something entirely new for her for that latter part, and I now think it’s a great addition.
I do spend a great deal of time with my chin in my left hand. And then suddenly I’m back to typing and deleting and cutting and pasting. I’m always searching for snappier dialogue, a gotcha sentence, and a better way to describe something. “No, for heaven’s sake, that won’t work.” Or “God, that’s just awful.”
Or there’s occasionally that much sought after feeling of, “Hmm, I like that. That’s pretty good…” That’s the one you live for.
If you are just starting out writing your first fiction book, my main piece of advice is never to allow yourself to become so frustrated that you give up. The reason the world is full of unwritten or unfinished novels is precisely because writing one is indeed immensely difficult. Be prepared to face a mountain of utter frustration at times. You just have to scale that mountain and move on to the next one… because, trust me, there will be a next one.
Eventually, though, you will finally reach the summit and your book will be completed.
However, yes, while getting up there, sometimes you do also need to take a moment…
But that’s always reserved for after the end of the day! 😉
Have a good one today yourself, wherever you are in the world. 🙂