Making the commitment to a story
Each book writes itself differently. Some books have a plot that falls into place but a character who remains elusive. Sometimes a character walks into my head fully formed and the plot is ever just out of reach.
But some things remain the same.
For me I have to burrow deep into the idea of the story, wrap myself in its threads like a catapiller building a cocoon. Only the catapiller knows for sure that it will become a moth or a butterfly. As I write I am not ever sure what I will have at the end of the writing.
I spent my weekend committing to telling Plant Kid’s story. Now you might think what with all the character letters and Teaser Tuesdays I’ve done that I was already committed to the story but I wasn’t. The commitment doesn’t come because I’ve written a certain number of words. It comes from a promise I make to a character to follow him through thick and thin until we reach a logical and acceptable conclusion to the story.
I started by gathering all the scraps of paper, all the text notes saved on the computer, and all the false starts and random scenes I had created around this idea of Plant Kid. I typed them into the computer, sorted snippets into an “attic” file to save and organized the random scenes in the order I think they go in the story. There is now just one file on the computer, one notebook that will go back and forth to work with me to capture those stray thoughts that pop into my head in the middle of work at the dayjob.
I designated one big red basket as Plant Kid’s basket and put it in the place of honor in my office. It’s a holding place until something gets into the computer or a place to store things that remind me of the book or the character.
I began to read (or in many cases reread) the first of the many books that will help me reacquaint myself with the subject matter that is the backdrop of this story and perhaps even a character in the story. Already there are a multitude of Post-it notes sticking out from the book and a stack of index cards beginning to form as a gather my notes.
I picked a poppy from the yard, the very first poppy that has bloomed here in this new house, and pressed it in a book.
Tonight I printed out for the first time what I have so far. Not because I’m at the point of doing anything different with it but just because I finally had something to print.
Not much. A little over 2,000 words. It felt like so much more. But that’s okay. This story has a long taproot and the roots have already taken hold. There’s a lot of growing going on in places no one can really see. And there’s a boy whispering in my ear, telling me to watch and listen and wait.
I had a dream about him last night. I saw him smile and heard him laugh and when I saw what he was doing, I laughed too.
And so it begins.
Through thick and thin right through to the what I know is going to be a multi-tissue messy end.