Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the Road to Find Out

Tooling along in the novel-in-progress, about which I will be intentionally-vague, and suddenly had one of those mini-epiphanies that sometimes slap me upside the head. A direction in which I had been driving the entire book, aiming for a particular destination, exactly there, knowing who did what, to whom, and why, suddenly just ... changed.

And of a moment, I clicked on the blinker and got into the turn lane. Didn't expect it, was perfectly happy with the route I'd been on, but there I went.

I'll have to fix stuff on the rewrite to lay the new direction in and make sure it makes sense, and that will involve some cut-and-paste, added or subtracted wordage hither and yon, like that, but that's okay. (And actually, not as much as I first thought, because on an unconscious level, I had to know this was coming–there are clues that pointed a reader this way, even though I didn't consciously put them in.)

Tap the brake, into the turn lane, go that way, and it'll be a better drive.

Or at least I think it will be, which goes to the same end, doesn't it? I'm at the wheel.

Sort of.

I usually don't natter on about the creative process of writing. My working motto has always been "Just tell the story," and this is sometimes more akin to watching it unfold and writing it down than it is being out in front of it leading. 

How the Zeitgeist delivers its payload is something of a mystery to most writers I know, and doesn't bear too close a scrutiny: Look too hard, you might spook the golden goose, I don't want that. 

Where do I get my crazy ideas? Not as important as that I get them at all. 

Writing for me is this kind of schizophrenia–obviously as the writer, the tale is coming from my brain and through my fingers; on the other hand, there is a sense sometimes of being split into two people: I am also the watcher who sees and hears the story being shown and told by some invisible-but-present Muse. In this head, it's as if it is as much a surprise to me as it might be to a reader.

Sounds nutty to a lot of people, and I agree. But there it is. 

The unconscious mind is a wondrous thing. It will chug along in the background, filing this away, getting rid of that, rearranging these things, and sometimes, it rings the bell and announces its presence: Hey, there, Steve. Look, I know we were going to take the interstate and drive straight through to our destination, but check it out, there is this scenic back road, the sign post is just ahead, and what say we go that way instead? Trust me, it'll be a more interesting trip if we do, see? And haven't I been setting it up all along?

Son-of-a-bitch, I believe you are right! Let's go! 

Stay tuned for more adventures in the sunshine of my spotty mind ...

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