Monday, January 17, 2011

New Beginnings...

So in the next couple of weeks I’ll be starting a new book, pretty much from scratch. Even better, I have an entire year to write it.

One of the things that strikes me as I peer into the near future is the utter, nerve-jittering uncertainty of it all. I have started enough books by now that I know I can start—and finish—them, but I also know that no completed manuscript is ever quite as wonderful as the shiny new idea floating around in my head. Once you take a hold of that idea and begin stretching it and shaping it and contouring it into a story—it shifts. It is no longer an idea full of infinite possibilities but begins to become concrete, with finite edges and form. For every story action or character element we choose, we have to release a hundred other possibilities.

Story ideas sometimes remind me of butterfly’s wings in that once you touch them, some of the magic dust comes off and prevents them from flying quite as perfectly as before. That sounds sad, and I don’t mean it to be, but just as in fairy tales, there is a cost for becoming real, for stepping out of the ephemeral into the finite.

With new stories we stand at the edge of an abyss. If we’re lucky, we can look across the gaping chasm and actually see the other side. And we know we have to get to there somehow. Usually by leaping out into the abyss while trying to build the glider we need to make it to the other side while in mid air.

Exhausting. Exhilarating. And oh-so-exciting.


Mae said...

That's why I'm considering NEVER writing my awesomest story... It's so nice as a plan. I know what happens, and I just let it happen.

Deva Fagan said...

A perfect description of the pain and pleasure of starting a new project! I also can find the choices paralyzing -- knowing that I must commit to something in order to get started, and worrying that I am making the wrong choice.

I'm almost at 20K (out of 80K expected) with my new project myself, now, but only after a lot of struggling with false starts. And I think I'm *finally* starting to feel like I'm on track, getting to know the characters as they become real people, not just ideas.

Best of luck with your new project! Is this the second medieval french assassin book?

Robin L said...

Mae, there is a lot to be said for that approach, just savoring an idea and letting it live in your mind.

Congratulations Deva, on reaching 20k! And yes, this is the second medieval french assassin book. Each book revolves around a new heroine, so it's not just a continuation of the first adventures, but a whole new story.

andalucy said...

On this blog you are always telling me things I need to hear. I don't know if you remember me telling you about the medieval Spain book? I think what happened with it is that once I started writing it, it seemed so far from the beautiful, glittery idea, I couldn't take it. It depressed me. I thought this was my failing as a writer (which it may have been to some extent) but now I understand that that's just how it is.

Today I finished a short story that I'm sending out to a few journals and I've started on another. Maybe I need to stick with short stories for now until I build more confidence. Or patience.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you posted this ~ this is exactly what I needed to read. I can't count the number of stories I've walked away from because I didn't feel like I could make the words on the page match the images in my head. It's so much fun having a new story idea ~ the shine, the endless possibility, the perfection. But as soon as I make the first mark on the page, I'm already trying to squeeze and mash and cram the story into a defined space, and I worry that maybe everything I'm doing is wrong.

It's deeply reassuring to realize I'm not the only one who feels that way. :) Thanks for the inspiration! And good luck with the new project. :)

Katy Cooper said...

Here's the thing: sometimes what comes out of us is better than what we imagined. I'll fall over in a heap if someone here has never had a flash of, "I wrote that?" Sometimes you need to put a lot of time between you and the work to find that moment, but still...

Robin L said...

I DO remember your medieval Spain book, Lucy, and completely understand that feeling that what is on the page is so much *less* than what you envisioned. But someone very wise (Hi Katy!) once told me that part of that is that we can't surprise ourselves like another can--that rush of falling unexpectedly into a very cool story or exquisite writing will never happen to us with our own writing--we know it too intimately.

The other thing I remind myself is that is what rewrites are for. :-)

wldhrsjen3, for some reason my spam filter is very fond of you and snaps you up every time you leave a comment. I just found an old comment of yours in there a couple of days ago, and when I came here to respond, found you'd left yet another comment I never saw. Please know that I'm not ignoring you, I'm just not getting the message alerts.

And I'm so glad you are reassured knowing you aren't the only one--you most definitely AREN'T.

That's a most excellent point, O Wise Katy. That has happened to me before and can actually be the determining factor as to whether I try to revive an older project or not. If I can find enough of those moments, it's worth considering, if not, I leave it in the drawer. :-)