Monday, December 30, 2013

Dreaming of my next novel

In Meredith Maran's wonderful book, Why We Write, Isabel Allende says that she always begins a new book on January 6. No matter what. I do not share her discipline, or regiment, I'm afraid. I begin when I know what I am trying to say, and when I think I know how I'm going to say it. 

It's been a matter of some frustration that my next novel fell into place months and months ago. But my reading/speaking/teaching schedule prevented me from writing even one word. Except in my head. And how the characters and plots have grown with so much time to do so! As an advocate of thoughtful, purposeful  writing (rather than that phrase I loathe of "a shitty first draft" or a "vomit draft") I have learned an important lesson these past months: trust my imagination. Let it take me to unexpected places. Don't rush to the page. 

The theme I'm working with in this one is secrets. How layered and nuanced my characters and their secrets have grown! So much deeper. So much more interesting. 

When I realized I wouldn't be able to begin in the fall, I admit to both panic and crankiness. But then I decided to embrace the delay. And that freeing decision has opened the novel up in unexpected ways. 

This morning I woke up with the first line (or a version of it), in my head. And the excitement and terror that always accompanies a blank page filled me to the point that I forgot I still feel flu-sick. 

Ahead for me is two weeks in Paris, a week home, and then a week teaching at the Eckerd Writers Conference. In there, that first line will be typed onto that blank page. And then the next. And the next...