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.