|You Are Best Described By...|
Meditative Rose By Salvadore Dali
It's been a lazy day around here today. My oldest daughter is living with me again for a little while, and we stayed up way too late watching a movie. "A Bug's Life," no less. I'm not going to deny that I love the occasional Disney movie, but the reason we chose "A Bug's Life" is not because of the cute little ants or the colorful artwork. We chose the movie because my daughter is a huge fan of Kevin Spacey and after seeing the rerun of his recent interview on Letterman, that movie (even though it's not the only Spacey film she owns) went in the DVD player.
Anyway, a late night on the anthill meant that I woke up a little foggy-headed this morning. Spent an hour reading from THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, which is the summer selection for my book club. We always take a three-month hiatus in the summer because everyone's too busy to get together, and we choose a long book to read since we'll (in theory) have enough time to read it. Usually I put off starting the book until about a week before our September meeting, so the fact that I've already started reading in August is terrifically meaningful.
Since then, I've spent most of the day revising four chapters of my current work in progress, Book #3 of the Candy Shop mystery series, PEPPERMINT TWISTED. The good news is that I'm finally starting to feel the rhythm of the story, and that's always a good thing. Until the rhythm is in sync, everything I write is just so much dreck. When I'm chopping away at the story, writing 100 pages of what the story isn't to find one page of what it is, I envy those writers who begin a new project and charge ahead for the first hundred pages. I think how nice it would be to write smoothly on a new project, to be excited to figure out where the story is going, to have words, scenes, and ideas spilling out of my head almost more quickly than I can get them down. (I don't think that's how it actually works, but it's my fantasy and this is my blog.)
Far from gliding through the pages without effort, I hack my way through every sentence, feeling about as capable as an artist who's been asked to carve an intricte glass figurine using a machete. This goes on until the characters finally agree to wake up and come to life for me. Luckily, once that happens everything changes. Then I get to drop the machete and take up my fine, delicate tools because I become a bystander, a writer lucky enough to listen in while the story unfolds around me.
I don't mean that the book just pours into my head and out of my fingers in one smooth movement. It's not a miracle or anything. Or maybe it is. All I know is that the hardest work I do on any book is chiseling my way into the heads and hearts of the people I'm writing about. And that I routinely pick such stubborn characters to work with, there's a whole lot of chiseling to do. :)