Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting My Gremlin On

I can't remember if I talked here about how Greasle came to take such a prominent role in Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist. It is an important lesson that I have only begun to learn, and have certainly not yet grasped. Not if the last few weeks are any indication, anyway.

The mythology in the Beastolgist books is simply that all the mythical creatures featured in the medieval beastiaries are real. They truly exist in hidden pockets of the world and only the Fludds know the exact locations of those. Simple enough.

However, while I was writing the first book I ran into the problem of Nate and Aunt Phil having to travel all over the world (there's that travel issue again!) and how to make it interesting rather than episodic or a simple tour guide recounting. Drama, I thought! I need to increase the tension! Make Nate proactive!

So I had Aunt Phil send Nate out on the wing to go up to the propeller and see what was gumming up the prop. He'd have to do the aeronautical equivalent of singing for his supper.

And much to everyone's surprise (not the least of which mine) it was a gremlin who was gumming up the works and out she popped into the story.

B-but . . . I didn't want a gremlin in the book! It didn't work! It mucked up the world I was building and mixed mythologies and . . . and . . . No, I wailed!

But try as hard as I might, I simply could not write the book without her. And if you know how life works, it is probably not surprising to learn that for many readers she is one of the most popular parts of the book.

So the lesson was clearly that one has to embrace one's creative wild hairs and just go with them some times. Only apparently I haven't truly internalized that one yet.

I've been plugging along on the new book for weeks, and it hasn't ignited in that way that it usually does--the way that makes it the most fun thing in the world to be doing. And it's because I've been resisting this odd, different angle/approach/thread that keeps wanting to come into the story, and I keep thinking, No. It doesn't work.

Only, I don't know that it doesn't work. I'm just afraid that it won't work. (Yeah. Fear never makes a good critique partner.) But the story is digging in its heels and refusing to come to play unless I do it its way. ::sigh::

So this weekend I gave up and said what the hell, and began incorporating that odd little element, and vavOOM! We're off! I would be banging my head on the desk in frustration at my own obtuseness if I weren't so relieved I've figured it out. I've finally found my gremlin for this book.

For me, this is one of the single hardest lessons in writing--learning to trust that creative vision, that quirky spark that wants to play in the story world I've created. I tend to think things aren't allowed or simply aren't done or that trying to combine too disparate elements creates incoherency rather than something new or fresh.

I wonder how many more times the Universe will have to slap me up side the head with this particular lesson? Should we start a pool?


PJ Hoover said...

And the gremlin was so awesome. Both I and my son loved it!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Yeah, we love Greasle. She's adorable!

Robin L said...

That seems to be the general consensus, but I sure couldn't see that when I was struggling with her early on!