So I was sitting in the cafe in Books-A-Million waiting for my guys to finish doing Manly Things at Best Buy. I’d forgotten to bring knitting. I’d forgotten to bring my Think Sideways planning notebook. I’d forgotten to bring my “C” planning notebook.
So I picked up a cheap-o notebook, and a pen that didn’t squidge all over the paper (discovered that my carry-along pen had started leaking), and sat staring at the blank page.
I didn’t stare for long.
“There is no perfect day for a funeral,” my character said in my ear, and I wrote that down. “There is no moment where the box can slide into the earth bearing the battered remains of the man who saved your life and made you whole and restored your faith in humankind and the world, and you can say, “This is good. This is right.”
So began “C.” I sat there scribbling as fast as I could put words on the page, and before the guys finished doing the Manly Things, I had the first chapter in rough first draft.
The first two lines don’t win me over. They aren’t right yet. None of it is a good as it can be, but it’s alive. It’s breathing, and I know what happens next.
But Smudge was born…
I woke up in the middle of the night a week or so ago with the vague idea that I wanted to write some sort of supernatural series with a hero who had a unique problem. No idea what sort of supernatural, no idea what sort of problem, just this nebulous concept that this was something I wanted to write.
Over the next few days, little ideas popped into my head, and I’d mull them over, then let them go. Nothing stuck. I liked some of the bits and pieces, but there was no connection between them. They all felt random. I let them float, not writing anything down, trusting that they would turn into something when they were good and ready. I was in no hurry. I have Think Sideways next on the table, and then the proposal for Moon & Sun III, and then C. I have no shortage of exciting, cool work.
So yesterday, riding into town with the guys, staring at the road, just being happy that I got SILVER DOOR done and in on time, all those unrelated pieces from the previous days collided into one huge, winning, ready gestalt and exploded into my awareness—character, problem, purpose, series arc, main character arc, stories, villain, and underlying theme about life and death and life after death. It was like slamming my head into a cabinet corner. One instant, everything was creamy; the next, I was overwhelmed by full-body sensory overload. (Only without the pain, which was a very good thing.)
I rode along, full of doubt, testing for holes, asking questions, and every time finding the answers already there, waiting, and beautiful. The guy who woke up with the structure of DNA in his head could not have been any more amazed than I was by the structure of this whole story/ character/ concept/ world. Smudge is a working title, the character’s nickname, and probably disposable three or ten times before I come to something I actually like.
But this one has to cook. I clustered all the elements yesterday in the OTHER Moleskine notebook I bought that day, and then set it aside. Because….
Think Sideways is keeping me awake nights
I’ve been writing and rewriting lessons and essays in my head and figuring out how to put the building blocks together in the most logical and usable structure, and visualizing the demos—how to SHOW the subconscious and how to SHOW turning bad ideas into good ideas and how to SHOW you how to train yourself to do the stuff I did to get Smudge, and that I’m doing with “C,” and that I did with the best stuff I’ve written.
Having finished this post, I’m starting lesson one of Think Sideways now.
(Actually, I wrote this about 9 AM today, and got a bunch done on Think Sideways already. Our internet has been out all day. Freakin’ internet.)