It’s been a long while, I know. I’ve been really focusing on writing, particularly my thesis for my graduate degree. The last two courses for my MA in Creative Writing focus entirely on writing a piece of fiction, whether part of a novel or a collection of short stories. I’ll admit it: I was intimidated to actually begin writing a long work.
After I pushed and pulled and yanked and begged that very first chapter out and created the vision I had of the beginning of my novel, I felt a satisfying relief. I can do this! When I read the feedback from my classmates and professor, something clicked and that nail biting, painstaking where do I go from here was gone.
I’m not a writer who outlines everything before I start. Or really much at all period. I know where my novel is heading. I know the big events, the major turning points, and a few of the pit stops along the way, but I write best when I don’t box myself in to certain ideas and allow all of that to change as I go. Most of my ideas come as I am writing and I honestly think it makes my writing flow better, both for myself and my readers. The best way I can explain it is that I see each scene playing like a movie and my muse is continually adding on before I fully register what’s happening. I see my character creeping down the hospital hallway as I’ve written, and before I know it, BAM! Movement to his right. It’s someone he knows. He’s running in the parking lot, passing people with no idea of the danger they’re in and suddenly I hear him screaming in warning because he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t try, despite the odds against them.
After four chapters and over 11,000 words, I get it. I get the connection with each character and the emotionally draining aspect of living through them. I get the writing, re-reading, re-writing, that’s not good enough, that’s not how I pictured it, how do I make this clear, would I feel this emotion if I was the reader, did I show instead of tell, etc, etc, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I re-read my work to make sure its just right even though I know I’m going to be doing it all over again later.
I definitely have action down pat. One aspect I am working hard on in my novel is theme and emotion. The whole beginning is a whirlwind of happenings that take place in a very short time span. A couple of hours, tops, and its one of those things where the characters don’t have much time to think or second guess their actions because of how quickly things spiral down the toilet. I just reached a point where everything hits my main character like a ton of bricks but he only has a minutes to process it. It’s proving very difficult to find that balance of action and emotion and I am eagerly awaiting my professor’s feedback now that those realizations have started to hit.
Tonight I will be beginning chapter five and my characters are on the move. I’m finally loving it and feeling the excitement of where I’m going next. Don’t get me wrong. Writing is hard. It consumes your thoughts and eats at you when you’re not sitting with your fingers on the keyboard. But when you see it coming together and you’re finally making good progress, you’re on top of the world.