Monday, March 23, 2015

In the sun of the forgotten spring


On the warmed porch Saturday afternoon, while Steph slept, I was at the table in the sunlight with my manuscript. A few weekends ago I finished reading it. I needed to refresh my memory from the haze of the November writing fog the book was born in.

November is known, in the writing world, as National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to huff out 50,000 words before the month is over. The writer sits in front of the glow of their modern typewriter, pledges his soul to a story, and commits to writing about 1,560 words a day. To win, the writer must type a marathon of 50,000 words or more, and that is all, and the feeling of satisfying accomplishment is immense.

This was my third go-round. The first time I attempted, but I only got through 19,000 words, and it was too much. I quit. I didn't hold steady.

A few years later, I tried again, and that time I was successful, even through a week of pneumonia. Sadly, I only wrote half of the book at 50,000 words, but it was a sequel. Writing it allowed me to go back to the first book and make significant changes. Had the second book not been started, the first book wouldn't be where it is today.

And that book is still in the rewrite pile. I have major faith in it, I just need to figure it out -- in the five years it took to write it, there were some major issues that still need to be ironed out.

I wanted a break from those two stories I had been thinking about and working on. It was time to venture into something different, to see if I had a different story in me.

I did.

This past summer, as I listened to music by the group Punch Brothers and mowed the lawn, a weird vision of waves rushing into my backyard struck me.

It seemed so strange. Waves crashing in? Crashing in on a land-locked yard? So many questions rose as I pushed the mower back and forth, kicking up dust and grinding up sticks. Where did the water come from? Why did it bring a boat? (In my head, it brought in a boat.) Who was in the boat? Why were they in danger?

I continued to think about this, and as I mowed, this idea continued to burn with exciting energy. I wrote it down, set it aside, and figured I'd return to it some day.

Summer faded to fall, as it always does, and Halloween was upon us. That frosty night was wet with clumpy snow, and I could hear it hit the sidewalk. Trick-or-treaters rang the doorbell bundled, their costumes shrouded by coats, their makeup smeared from the soggy snow.

The start of NaNoWriMo was the next day. I paid it no mind. I had no time to pound out a book. I needed to edit the one I'd been working on, even though I felt lost and overwhelmed with it.

Why start a new one? Who does that?

But come Saturday morning, that's exactly what I did. Something kicked me in the gut, and the thought of waves gushing in on land nowhere near the sea called to me.

And I started writing.

This time, the goal wasn't just to reach 50,000 words. My goal was to actually finish the book, conclusion and all. Send the characters off in the sunset, type THE END at the bottom, and actually call it finished. No sequel. No series.

That's what I sat with on the porch in the warmth of the forgotten spring. It was time to begin the editing process.