Okay, here's something I do when I'm writing, and I wonder if anyone else does it? I mean, I'm sure they must, but I don't know as I've ever heard anyone admit it.
So some of you, when you have a scene to write, you probably just. . . write it. Yeah? You? Sounds so easy and so obvious. But that doesn't always work out for me. I'll stare at the screen, think a little, decide to google something terribly important, get sidetracked, wallow in time-wasting, then discover it is lunch time -- rather than just write the scene. I just caught myself doing it -- spent about half an hour wikipedia'ing "frost" and "snow" (interesting stuff! ever heard of watermelon snow??) -- and it occured to me to blog about it, i.e. waste even more time.
What I could be doing instead of wasting time, is:
I could write about the scene. Do you ever do that?
It's less scary than actually writing the scene. In my "notes" doc which is always open next to my "manuscript" doc, I start telling myself what I want to have happen in the scene, what things I want to reveal, what the overall tone ought to be, and I try to brainstorm details, and I try to figure out what the characters are thinking and how they're feeling, and what it might lead them to do and say. In short, I try to feel my way inside the scene, try to sort of build it up around me into something that begins to feel real, and I do this in brainstorming mode, saying "maybe this" and "I suppose that" etc.
The consequence of writing about the scene is usually that I discover it, make it real and figure out how to write it. I do wish it were easier though, the whole writerly ordeal. Reading the "Emily" books again, I find myself jealous of her -- jealous of both the fictional character Emily, and the author L.M. Montgomery, who I'm guessing modeled her character after herself in some such essentials. Emily must write. She can't not. She awakens in the night with a story idea, grabs her Jimmy book and starts writing, and keeps writing, enraptured. It's so lovely. I want it to be like that! And there are moments when it is, but not that often. When I was writing Sunday Scribblings stories I would find myself in that fabulous place, because there was no pressure, but writing Silksinger it has only ever come in flashes.
How about you? Do you find that sheer joy, that ease?
It sure sounds nice to me. Sigh. After I write a few more books, perhaps my brain will learn to relax? I hope.
By the way, I am changing so much in this draft of Silksinger, it will be a whole new book when I am through with it! Tomorrow I will backtrack from the middle, where I am now, to write an entirely new Chapter Two. I couldn't quite face the challenge of writing an entirely new Chapter Two at the time I realized it had to be done; I let myself skip over it for a little while. But now I must face it. When I think how much time I spent on the old Chapter Two, I really could cry -- I mean, you'd think I would cry, but in fact I'm not feeling overly sentimental about it. Enough time has passed that, instead of mourning it, I can get excited about what will replace it.
P.S. I did another school visit today and it was fun as always, 4th graders again. 4th graders are delightful. And, I experienced my first attempted theft from the box of claws! The barn owl talon went missing! It was discovered by a teacher in a boy's pocket. I didn't even see who the boy was, but I keep trying to imagine the drama from his perspective, what it might have been like, the split decision to take it, the shame of getting caught with it. I told my mom about it and she reminded me of a story about my niece who, in 1st grade, inexplicably told her teacher that her sister had died. (She is an only child and always has been.) Then, to her utter mortification, her teacher decided to walk out with her after school to offer his condolences to her mother! I can just imagine her trying to persuade him that really, he didn't need to do that -- to no avail. And the horror of it all! I'm trying to think of what some of my own mortifications might have been. I do love, in the Emily books (and the Anne books too), the way L.M. Montgomery makes these dramas of childhood so vivid and huge, the little shames and triumphs.
Okey dokey, off to the night-gym. Tell me, please, if you write about what you're going to write. Tell me, too, if you think this sounds absolutely dreadful, like it would kill all soul and spontaneity in the scene. Curious about your thoughts!