Tonight I wrote 400 words or so, along with racking my brain and scribbling ideas for an hour before then. I’m working on one of the first scenes in Risha’s story, and I’ve been procrastinating to the nth degree because every time I work on it, it gets bigger. A deal is going down, and it’s going sideways. Here are the kinds of questions I’m asking:
Who’s her crew?
Where is she?
Is it civilized or on the frontier?
On the frontier of what? Are there wild animals? Barbarians? Klingons?
What’s her cargo?
Big or small?
Is there a double cross or does something else go wrong?
Who are her friends?
Who are her enemies?
Does she meet them now or later?
The list goes on, and on. At this point one of my first teachers would say, “Back up. Start with the character. It all has to tie together and it starts with her.”
True. But does that mean I need to build the whole galaxy and her place in it before I do anything? I don’t have that kind of patience. I have a lot, but not that much. So I may do it in chunks. Zoom in as tight as I can and keep the focus on her, so that I don’t have to deal with the rest of the galaxy yet. I’ll work on that in parallel, a little at a time.
It’s funny. When I wrote Shadow and Shade, I had no idea how much work novels were. I said to a fellow writer that if I’d known, I might never have started. She laughed and said it sounded like raising kids. I have one thing now that I didn’t have then: the first one under my belt.
At times like this I like to remember this TED talk presented by Sarah Kay. I’m in awe of her craftsmanship with words.
I love the part when she says, “I can do this,” and then “I will continue.” That’s where I am. I’ll do step three along the way: “Infusing the work you’re doing with the specific things that make you you, even while those things are always changing.” For now I’m focused on steps one and two.