For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about the novel I’ve been planning. It looks like it may finally be ready to move on to the next stage. I’ve said this several times before and each time I have had to eat my words. While this may seem like failure, all it is is a prelude for success. I’m not talking about becoming the next Hemingway but that small personal success that comes from really starting the writing process. How can I finally be sure that this is the one, that this is the story I’m finally going to bring to term? I’m not! You can’t ever be sure-sure, like 100%, without-a-doubt sure but I have a feeling that this is the beginning. And when I believe that’s all you get, a feeling. It takes a lot of faith to write. You have to have faith that you can accomplish your goal and that the story won’t suddenly sputter and die half way through. Nothing is a given but if you have a feeling then at least that’s something. And I have to say that the other reason I believe I’m ready to really get down to business is that I have found what makes me tick as a writer. I love character studies and I love to write them. Give me a grand conspiracy and tons of action and I’ll lose momentum before I’ve put a word on the page. Give me a room and two characters and I’ll sing for you. This novel has more than two characters but I’ve dialed back the complexity to the extent that I can finally concentrate on what matters to me which is the internal situation of the characters.
Before I can truly begin writing this though, I need to write up the threads of each character. Luckily, I already know how they intersect and where they’re all going to collide by the time they finish their character arcs. The biographies of the characters are all done and check out in terms of consistency and I think provide each of the characters sufficient depth so that they can support complex motivation and a range of emotion necessary to drive this story to completion. What is not totally nailed down is the gooey stuff in the middle. But that’s not a bad thing. It means I have a ton of room, in fact three different universes worth of room, to explore. The thing is that the more I think about these characters, the more I can see them and the more they are becoming real. It’s sort of like in biology where you start out with one yeast cell and then you watch it bud into two yeast cells. At this stage, I’m beginning to feel the characters cleaving themselves from me. I’m sure that as I record my ideas and think more about the characters, they will become even more real and independent. And this will help me to fill in the middle part of the story since these characters will become co-authors with me and they will author their own stories. To a degree at least. I can’t let them get too far afield and end up derailing everything. As always, there needs to be a balance.
In the end, it is persistence as much as patience that is rewarded. And like a story, it isn’t so much about the ending as the story and the things you learn along the way. I’m still just getting started but on my way to this point, I’ve learned a lot about what it is I’ve got to say and how I want to say it. I suppose I’ve gotten a lot closer to finding my voice and maybe I have found it. I’m no where near the end of this journey and I already feel like I’ve learned a lot. I can’t imagine what else I’ll be surprised to find on the voyage to the final word.