I love/hate starting a new novel.
Writing is a discipline. Oh, I know. It’s a whole lot more than a discipline. It involves imagination and creativity and a certain ability to string words together in a way that pleases people who read them. And at its best it transports the writer out of his (or her: not being sexist here) everyday world into a place of mystery and delight.
But at its core, it’s a discipline. You want to be a pianist, you practice. You want to be a good pianist, you practice a lot. If you have a limited grasp of what music is all about you will likely never be a great pianist. But if you practice enough, you’ll be pretty damned good.
Likewise, if you want to be a writer, you write. If you want to be a good writer, you write a lot. If you have a limited imagination you will likely never be a great writer. But if you write enough, you’ll . . . OK, you might never be pretty damned good. You may only end up with piles of pedestrian manuscripts. But the last one will be a whole lot better than the first one, I guarantee.
But deciding what you’re going to write about? Try as I might, I can’t turn that into a discipline. Ideas are elusive. Oh, they’re out there alright. You just can’t command them to come in. They have to be enticed. Like fairies. Sprinkle some bits of sugar cookies about — fairies like sugar cookies. Unless they’re hungry for steak.
Back when I was working for money (as opposed to working to get words down on electronic paper), we had a little satellite plant in Dayton. Dayton, Texas; not the Ohio version. An hour’s drive down little Texas back roads. Driving there in the early morning was the best. The mists are still around — did I mention that fairies love mists? Distractions are few and far between, unless you’re distracted by feed stores, trailers, cows watching you as they finish their breakfast.
About 30 minutes into the ride, the fairies would come and ride with me. They seemed to be fascinated by the idea of riding in a car in the midst of this rural landscape.
Walking just doesn’t do the same thing. It’s not boring enough, I suppose. Or maybe I just need to choose more boring places to walk. A 40 acre soybean field, maybe.
Think fairies hang out in soybean fields?
I have a couple of weeks for this idea to come together. So I need to change my work habits. Get up, shower, read the comments you’ve left for me on my blog over coffee. And then head out for Dayton instead of the computer.