Monday, January 3, 2011

the activity of creation

The process has begun. As the old year dwindled down and the new year sprang into being, I was given the gift of time away from work, away from phones ringing and impromptu meetings. I had an entire week off and I used it to my best advantage. Besides starting this new blog, I spent a great deal of time pouring through old files and revisiting the world of Otherwhen in earnest. What I found was not just another anthology waiting to be compiled, but an opus waiting to be realized. Those files are, in essence, the elements of a puzzle waiting to be constructed.

They had existed as a series of vignettes, character sketches, short stories and novella-length offerings up until recently. Though I had entertained the notion of one day compiling them all into book form, I’d never really given any thought to the logistics of the idea. In a sense, all I’d been doing over the past decade was compiling information and putting my characters through a few paces to see how they would react in certain situations. Sometimes those situations culminated in a conclusion, sometimes they didn’t. I wasn’t writing for anybody else. It was, admittedly, an exercise in self-indulgence.

All that has changed, now. Sitting down and going through the old files--putting them in a freeform attempt at chronological order, spreading them out and taking stock of the ragged edges--I have discovered that what I have created is a framework of sorts: A skeleton, with enough sections of flesh, muscle and tendon to identify it as a comprehensible whole. It must be similar to the feeling Dr. Victor von Frankenstein first felt when he took in the shattered pieces of fresh flesh lying on his laboratory table and recognized the possibilities his future actions could assert.

To take otherwise inert materials and sew them together, build them up and fill in the gaps, layer upon layer, until soon it is recognizable not for its individual parts, but for the wholeness of its being. What a rush! Suddenly ideas I had either never considered, or had dismissed due to lack of time or inability to follow the concept through to its logical end, are making themselves known. I can see the over-reaching arc of the story and recognize areas in need of obvious fleshing out or, even better, infusions of subtle subtext.

It appears that I have not one book here, but several. At least two. A little massage and manipulation, some necessary rewriting here and there, the creation of new scenes to tie others together; who knows, I might have more than two. I’m not going to concern myself with that, right now. Instead, I’m just going to do what my instincts tell me to do: Tackle the first book. Strip these written pieces of all artifice and find the kernal of storytelling truth in each one. Write the story that has always wanted to be written.

Just short of two thousand words written this morning and I find myself six thousand words into a new novel. The rest are like pages fluttering in a breeze, waiting to be addressed. Some will change, others will merge with new words and ideas, but ultimately a whole will be produced. I’m not giving myself a deadline. No expectations. Just the thrill of writing and the discoveries that are inevitable in the process. It’s a whole new year and I’m off to a rollicking start. Somewhere, a certain gorgon demon slayer is smiling.

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