Writing is as mysterious a process as it is a
disciplined one. Up every morning well in
advance of the dawn, I'm writing like a lunatic
until the sun cracks over the horizon. Working
furiously, as if not to get caught like a Cinderella
who races to put words on paper before the
prince catches sight of her gown turning to rags.
To be a novelist you have to be a bit nuts, I tell my friends, because
you're driven to the exclusion of everything ...creating something out
of nothing other than thoughts, pictures, and impressions that people
might never read, yet nonetheless writing with all the conviction in the
world as if your very life depends on it. It's a force that doesn't let go
until dark marks are etched onto a screen and ultimately onto paper.
Editing is wrestling with the beast to find the hidden gold in sentences, things
you've missed in the storm of the first creation. And, if you're lucky you'll
meet characters you'd never imagined, watching as they rise to the fore to
surprise you, feeling their pain, their disappointment and their joy as if they were
best friends or enemies. Searching for what comes next takes patience, like sitting
with a sick child, keeping him company and holding his hand, knowing that the
fever will break and once again you'll get to fashion something out of nothing.
Surprisingly, some of the best ideas, dialog, and transitions come either in the shower
or in the car. Keeping a pad and pen by the bathtub helps. Rumpled envelopes on
the passenger seat, pencil tucked into the console, scribbling down words without
looking, praying for a light to turn red, which they never do when you need them to.
Later, trying to decipher what the heck it was I jotted down in a frenzy, all the while
knowing that if I don't, it'll be gone in a flash before the next red light. Oh, I've promised
I'll remember, cross my heart, but experience has taught me that such images vanish
as quickly as they appear: words, a phrase, sometimes answers to questions I'd ask
of my subconscious the night before. And wouldn't you know it, just as the light turns
green to release the line of traffic, so goes the stream of consciousness, flowing at
45 miles per hour with no place to pull over.
Writing happens everywhere, anywhere. It's a zone that once entered, I could
be in the quiet of my sun room, on a noisy city bus, at school, or talking to my
mother on the phone (sorry, Mom). All I know is that every day, I write, whether I feel
like it or not. Sometimes it's good, sometimes not so good, but it's like putting
a bookmark in my own soul, reserving the space before it gets cluttered up
with all of the other stuff of which life is made.
NO PLACE TO PULL OVER
A preview of things to come