Lostness to Foundness, or how I write, at first

Thursday, July 21, 2011

For two months, I allowed myself to grow lost inside the Dangerous Neighbors prequel that I'm writing. Let the research take me where it would, let myself obsess over William and his troubles, took up residence with secondary characters, old machines, hominy men.  You can't write a book if you can't get lost, and a book won't breathe—can't breathe—until you've followed loose ends, unraveled tangents, stayed the purposeful course of not precisely knowing.  You have to write what you won't keep to find what is worth keeping.  Lostness is foundness, in writing. 

It wasn't until today, then, that I printed the 50 pages I have written and sat down with them in a fan-assisted room (oh, this weather).  I was surprised by what I had.  I was intrigued by what was missing.  And I knew, sure as I know anything about tensions and rhythms and novelistic pacing, that a big event was needed, round about page 24. 

"What are you working on?" my son asked, about two hours in.

"Listen to this?" I asked him.  He sat near the fan and I read.

"Very interesting," he said, when I was done.  The arch in his eyebrow was lifted higher.  "Going to be a good one."


Melissa Sarno said...

I like this inside look at how you write. :-)

Beth F said...

Awww. Glad your test audience is giving you positive early reviews.

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