In Little Room Confining Mighty Men

I said to someone once somewhere that writing novels does not get easier the more you do it.  Oh, you grow more dextrous with the craft as you work at it, that's certain.  I am losing my hack-job quality of going about it, much to my relief.  They say practice makes perfect (they are lying, of course, but it's a nice sentiment) but what they don't tell you is that, if you really love your art, it is only going to get harder.  You will get better at facing the challenge, but the wave beyond the next one is always going to be higher, colder, more blood-curdling - and if you've got an ounce of self-dignity in you, you're going to suck in your breath and plunge into that wave all the same.

I knew Gingerune was going to be a difficult wave.  What I did not expect was the speed with which it overtook me.  Only a few days ago I was bobbing merrily in the mellow seas of Plenilune, a year and a half of familiar waters, content with characters I had come to know, places I had come to love, a plot I had already well hashed out and was just fitting into form.  I look back on it and think, "Well.  That wasn't so bad."  And then I turn and look into the shadows at the shapeless form of Gingerune, as yet mercurial and mysterious, unwilling to give up its secrets to me, and I know I'm going to have to play the old going-down-the-rabbit-hole game with it: chasing after it word by word, taking sudden turns of thought after characters whose habits of mind I do not yet know, following where they lead, exploring a world beyond my cozy realm of tongue-in-cheek Shakespearean quotations and bizarre biblical references.  With Gingerune I feel as if I am going out alone into the dark, my imagination a bare, faint spark, my fingers stringing words together like beads, and I'm waiting for that magical moment when the formlessness of the idea in my mind suddenly clicks with the hesitant pictures my hand is making. 

My walls are changing.  Many of the old sticky-notes for Plenilune have been taken down, used up and ruthlessly discarded.  New notes are going up.  New pieces of paper, like the Standards of legionary companies, staggered in pink on a green background.  A drawing of my main character stares accusingly at me from beside Jefferies' monitor screen.  A new world is piecing itself together in my head.

A new novel has begun.

4 ripostes:

  1. "There's something magical about writing the first words of a story...you never know where they might take you." And to *that* I say Hear Hear! I know what you mean about not knowing what's what with a new story. I'm at that point with two books right now....one I have more of an idea what I want, the other is nothing but a crooked king at present. Hmmm

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  2. I'm feeling the same sort of walk-in-the-dark with Gumusservi. I hardly know where my next step is gonna take me, much less how my tentative characters will react. ;) Im having to plot-outline this time around, which I don't usually prefer to do, only because of how jumbled everyhing is in my brain. Would that fingers were made of gray matter, to ease the difficulty!

    Oh, and do give us a few more hints once you've got your footing...I'm the curious sort, you know. ^_^

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  3. That last paragraph gives me the same thrill as the announcement: "A New Voyage to Unknown Waters is begun!" I felt a shiver of excitement. It made me want to start my own voyage.

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  4. I am so excited for you, Jenny, in seeing Gingerune develop and grow into a masterpiece like your two other books, Adamantine and Plenilune!! Being rather a young writer when it comes to writing experience (a mere five years basically) I can only reckon with a semi-large unfinished novel that's been temporarily laid aside The Crown of Life, a completed short-story and this new novel, A Love that Never Fails based off the short story, taking it from you it is scary to think that each new work is more difficult than the first, but now that I've started 'A Love that Never Fails' I think I start to dimly see the truth in your wordds!

    Thanks to the fact that both you and Abigail are starting out fresh new novels (well, sort of... I can hardly call Abigail's 80,000 something word Tempus Regina exactly new), I feel comforted and encouraged to know that it is not just me who is going through and floundering under the same 'unknown' crest of new waves. Starting out a new novel that is not written on the whim of sudden inspiration has been to me a painful, agonizing job so far! And frankly, quite terrifying. One doesn't know those new characters, places and people and doesn't quite know where this new wave will take her. But at the same time, like you put it, I do feel that strange thrill of excitement over that "New Wave"

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