I thought of two possible titles for this post… and at this moment, I’m not sure which will win out:
Hijacked… and Lovin’ It
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Laptop
They’re both accurate. Now, right off the top, here’s today’s disclaimer: this post doesn’t address anything about fixing the dumpster fire that is currently our world. I’ve no prescription for universal peace or health or healing the masses. Of course, the flipside is I’m not going to rant about deplorable leadership of our politicians, or ignorance/arrogance of people, or…
Nope. Today’s post --- which, actually, may be a refreshing change from all that sh*t listed above --- is simply about good stuff. You remember good stuff? Well, if this was a Winnie the Pooh story chapter, the title would read like this:
Chapter 62: In Which We Continue To Learn About Things Writerly, And How A Quite Unexpected Event Turned Out To Be A Very Good Thing
So… (continuing in that vein) … once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about six weeks ago, our writer was placidly writing along, doing his daily quarantine writing…
…working on the sequel to my first novel, as I have been lo, these several years now. It was going well --- as a matter of fact, at 178,000 words and change, we’re approaching the climax… but I’d been idly thinking recently of wanting to try something a little different: point of view, maybe? Short story instead of novel? YA (young adult)? I’d been looking through some of my favourite YA books --- some stretching back into the Dark Ages, when I actually was a YA --- though in those unenlightened, primitive times, there was no such formal thing as YA… if you’d asked a librarian for YA literature then, she would’ve stared at you like you’d lost your mind, sternly shushed you, and sent you packing back to the ghetto of the children’s section from whence you came (oh, the humanity).
And, as a gamer (person who plays video games, primarily consoles, in my case) --- gamers aren’t necessarily all immature teenage boys, you know; they can be immature aging adults like me --- I’d been playing a game recently featuring a resourceful, plucky female protagonist, who quite inspired me and gripped my imagination.
And it all came together, quite by --- well, I was going to say “accident,” but I don’t believe anything happens by accident, so let’s say it came together by serendipitous collusion between my subconscious and the Muse. It really was one of those ‘aha!’ moments, and what we wind up with is:
An 18-year-old female protagonist who’s intelligent, strong-willed, and independent; story told in first person; set in the same fantasy world as my first and second books, although I still don’t know whether it’s prior or subsequent to them --- or whether it’s in an ‘alternative version’ of that world. Why don’t I know? Because I haven’t been told yet. (By whom? The characters, of course, dummy. Work with me here.)
I started with a really clear vision of the introductory incident that got things rolling, and since then… I’ve just stood back and listened to the protagonist tell the story. Literally (and amazingly). This event flows into that, which moves into another, and so on. It’s very strange… I’ve never felt so much like the story is actually taking place and all I’m doing is recording what’s happening as it does. It’s very rewarding. I always liked C.S. Lewis’ comment, “I never exactly made a book. It's rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say,” but I really understand what he was talking about. So here we are, six weeks, roughly 1300 words a day, and nearly 43,000 words later, and I feel as if we’ve only just scratched the surface of this tale.
(A word or six about word counts: I see other writers on social media with posts something like this: finished 10,000 words today bringing me up to end of chapter 18. Moderately good progress. And I have something to say to writers like that --- well, several things, really, but I’ll stick with something polite: stop giving the rest of us inferiority complexes. 1300 words is a damned good daily word count for me, and mostly unprecedented. One of the things I’ve always had against NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month --- yes, Virginia, there is such a thing; it’s in November] is that, to reach the goal of 50,000 words in that one month, writers must manage 1667 words per day. And my output has never reached that.)
It's really refreshing… I love telling the story from a different gender; and I love telling it from a different point of view. I don’t know how YA the tale is, and at 43,000 words we’re clearly out of short story territory, but I’m thinking that’s not very important, anyway… I just let the MC (main character) tell the story in her own words, and what between her and the Muse, they’re doing just fine.
So if you’re ‘staled’ or stalled with writing… making a few changes like ones I’ve mentioned here could be just the ticket at getting back on track.
(By the way, for the half-dozen of you wondering what this means for my first novel’s sequel… it’s resting --- not like Monty Python’s dead parrot, either. It’s coming. But as I recently said to a friend who raised that issue… the Muse can be something of a fickle bitch at times, so when she comes to you and says she has this great idea you must record right now… you blow her off at your peril.)