Monday, January 03, 2011

The first step

Today I typed the first scene of my next book. (Novel #5 if you're counting.) The five minutes before I actually started typing were brutal. A thousand million doubts leaped into my mind: you don't have enough pre-writing done; you haven't done enough character-building; this isn't the right story; this setting is too dark for the market; why don't you keep doing research on that other project you want to start, that wonderful adult, gothic, tree-licious project that will be so much more fun to write/potentially be critically acclaimed/make a better movie/have a cooler title/ impress more people.

I almost succumbed to the desires to eat a big chunk of chocolate or wash dishes, but I pushed them away. Okay, I didn't actually push away those desires. I actually bellowed "By the power of Orbit gum, I can do this!" and then typed "Chapter One."

Aren't you glad you're not my neighbor? Mine are pretty certain I'm insane.

But 3 sticks of gum later, I have 900 new words about a kid I think I'm going to love and a planet I'm already glad I don't live on. There are still a few doubts malingering around in the back of my brain, but at this moment, I don't feel like I need to listen to them. They'll probably wait at least another 6,000 words before attacking again, at which point in time I will probably need to invest in my favorite flavor of gum: Mint Mojito. It's the little bribes that really get you through these things.

I do feel like today is an auspicious day to start writing this particular book. Today is J.R.R Tolkien's birthday, and I love his books--not for the writing, which can be awkward, but for their amazing sense of place. Tolkien was a master worldbuilder, a creator of place and peoples with a depth like no other. And this book that I'm starting came not from a situational idea or a character, as most of my other projects have begun, but from the thought of a world. I fell in love with a shot in a movie and I wanted to create a world around it.

Little by little, the place evolved. I struggled to make the place make sense and I struggled to figure out what kind of people would (or even could!) live in this cruel environment. I can't say that my main character came easily. I was struggling with her even last week. But a few nights ago, I was in the bath, and a scene played out in my mind. And I knew I had her. The one and only girl who could power this story.

This morning all I had to do was push aside my self and my world and put that girl on paper. And by the power of Orbit gum, I have begun!

Are you getting ready for any new challenges this year? Maybe this will turbo-charge you the way it charged me:

1 comment:

Erin Stocks said...

Gah, I SO understand the fear. I'm on book #4, which both terrifies and excites me. Usually the former. (And I don't have a previous published one like you!)

But maybe that fear means we have something real going on, too. :) And it brings us back to the basics of we why need tell stories, so that's a good thing.