The writing life is multi-layered. The fun part is the creative process. It's what keeps us coming back to the computer screen.
I've been struggling with my main character in my second novel, which is about a race for Texas governor. The race itself has lots of twists and turns—typical Texas politics with backroom pacts and dirty tricks in the mix. She’s covering the race and you’d think she’d be as flashy as the plotline, but she’s been stiff as cardboard.
My friend Karleen reminds me that this is typical in the process. The character is new to me and I don’t know her yet, so I put her in different situations and figure out how she might react. Eventually, as I will get to know her and what makes her tick, I won’t have to force anything. She’ll take over and write her own story. I’ll just be taking dictation. Until then, my job is to keep exploring her character, looking for the interior story, for what motivates her.
Last night, for example, after weeks of drafting five chapters and moving her from scene to scene, she showed me how ambitious she is. It helped me see why she wants to make this journey. She’s going to risk her reputation in this story, and I couldn’t see how someone so strongly identified by her career would put it on the line. But now I see: her ambition drives her to the brink. Wow. I did not know this when I started writing this novel.
Today adrenalin is popping through my veins and I’m writing “in the flow” as Karleen likes to call it. In the flow, for you who don’t know, involves those times when the story comes out hard and fast. A writer’s job, when this happens, is to jump into the rapids and write as fast as she can, capturing the story. (To hell with punctuation and spelling, I’ll handle that in the editing.)
Will I be able to ride the flow to the end of the book? Possible, but unlikely. And frankly, I don’t care. Right now I’m just thrilled with the ride.
PostScript: I mention my friend Karleen Koen occasionally in this blog. She is a best-selling historical novelist who will be revealing ways to wrangle a finished novel from the rough draft at a weeklong retreat in Alpine, TX. She’s an amazing Sorceress who graciously shares her magic potions.
Interested? Go to http://www.writersleague.org/ and click on Conferences and Retreats for detailed information about the 2014 Summer Retreat. This will be my third time to attend the retreat. Hope to see you there.