Thursday, March 10, 2011
The Hatching Season
It’s the hatching season. Not just of the various critters that appear to be attempting to invade the house, but of a new story.
It struck me this morning as I waddled around the kitchen that I felt thoroughly pregnant. Like the egg was ready to be laid. I’m speaking metaphorically, and I hasten to add there was no waddling, just the sensation that I should be waddling because I’m carrying this huge “thing” that needs birthing. Then I remembered that I’ve had this feeling several times before and always at the same time of year. It’s as though there is a season for bringing a new story into the world.
When I started my paranormal novel a few years ago, it was in March. When I started each book in my midgrade fantasy trilogy, it was the end of February. When the novel I’ve just finished first appeared, it was late February/early March. And now it’s happening again.
As with the others, this story has been composting and brewing in my subconscious for a long time – this one for perhaps longer than any of the others. I’ve started first chapters of it on several occasions, but it’s never been the right time to really bring it into the world. Now it is.
The trouble is, I decided that I would really like to try and plot this story. I figured I’d take control, avoid the endless rewrites, and condense the whole process. But I’m not by nature a plotter – I am a complete “pantster” – I write on the fly – I have nothing but the barest hint of what is about to happen and I don’t know where the story will go. I have a concept and I have a character and I go from there, to who knows where, on a huge adventure with my characters. You might say the story happens to me as much as it does to my characters.
For me, this is the “magic” of writing; it’s like “channeling” the story. That’s the wonder and richness of it. For someone who is usually very organized, disciplined and well-grounded in business and process protocols, this is where the creative energies force me to trust them and take me on an alchemical ride of their own. It’s once the first draft is down that I regain my power, and my work (the rewriting and editing) begins.
This time, however, I thought I could try and change the process. Ho-ho-ho.
For the last few weeks, knowing the story has been reaching boiling point, I’ve been trying to find the various bits of it so I can sit down and plot the thing. Ha! Not a chance. It’s just not going to happen. Every time I try to sneak up on the story to unravel its secrets, it hurtles off and blows raspberries at me from behind a bush. Each time I try to cajole it and encourage it to reveal its inner workings to me, it slinks off and sulks. It becomes capricious, petulant and single-minded. Any attempt to pin it down, just makes it thoroughly elusive.
Let’s not kid ourselves, stories have minds and lives of their own. They are alive and they live on their terms. Some people’s stories may allow themselves to be captured and tamed into submission to reveal their inner depths. The stories that come to me don’t.
So, I will now capitulate and sit down in front of my blank screen and wait for the story to reveal itself. It’s the only way to do it and frankly, at this stage, I’m so heavily pregnant with story that if I don’t, I’ll probably explode. And we all know how messy that might be - chocolate and vanilla will be splattered everywhere!
As it is, just having said all this, I can hear the gentle rustling of wings as the story settles itself down and readies itself to be told.
Here we go…!