To: All architects and folks with actual experience in construction, please excuse any inaccuracies ~ although I think the gist of the very similar process is here!
For more than a year, I’ve been writing a book. Here is my attempt to try to describe some of the process. An experience which has been and continues to be (I have some trouble with verb-tense in this post and that is very representative!) a succession of exhilarating swoops down the mountain after almost vertical upward learning curves.
- BLUEPRINTS – sketching things out, playing with ideas
I began with the idea for one character. Then I pictured one certain scene, and wrote it. Then I wrote whatever else next came to me, when I had my “butt in the chair,” sometimes even closing my eyes. It was equal parts exhilarating, and scary as hell. I assigned myself 300 words a day. And I kept on going almost every day with that (there were more words some days) until I felt I was done. (Prepare yourselves for what’s next.)
Next I mistakenly sent off a query to an editor I’d met at a conference. Only a couple of weeks later, I was drastically embarrassed and chagrined to discover on my own that the story wasn’t even close to ready. Agh. (I actually sent him an email saying as much. I didn’t mean to waste his time – it was a beginner mistake. –> Making a mistake means you’re doing something. So, I carried on…)
At this stage if you want to in the writing (and to just to “get ‘er done”) you can have a three-story house, with the bathroom set alone on the top floor. Sure, it doesn’t make sense and it’s not convenient, but it’s there. Later, in stage 4 you can make adjustments. Ha.
2. PREPARING THE GROUND
I read and read and read and read — craft books, aka: books on writing and how to write; went to an SCBWI workshop; read lots of other novels in my genre. I was still writing at the same time myself, and thrashing around with figuring out characters and the action.
3. LAYING THE FOUNDATION
I got connected with a few critique partners and we began exchanging pages. I went through a dark night of the soul, becoming very frustrated and wanting to rip the whole thing up. I was incensed & despairing that it seemed, “Nothing happened!!” in the collection of pages.
After some excellent feedback, I had a breakthrough when one online critique partner figuratively pointed at me and said, “Your timeline is a mess. Start HERE.” I thought about it briefly, the comments rang true, and I did just that. Figuring out where to start seemed to make the rest of the story’s structure fall into place. There was still a lot of work to do, but I was able to push from beginning to end.
Things began to come together. Once I knew my beginning and pushed myself to continue through to the end from there, cutting and pasting from already-written scenes, revising as I went from start to finish, it was easier to flow forward.
I can feel it coming together, which is much better than the aforementioned feeling of extreme aggravation. But I also have another feeling: there is a lot still to do, still looming, after I “finish” this stage. I suspect that after I get to the very, very end, I don’t know how many more passes through I’ll need to do — to add layers, sensory detail, double-check character arcs, etc.
7. INTERIOR DESIGN
Could this be the final stage? Adding beauty & window-dressing, in the established but empty house?
[Yes, I realize that if in fact, I get to the stage where I think it’s ready, and I’ve done all I can (with the help of others … beta readers, here I come! 🙂 ~ that just begins another process of revision. Maybe that could compare to the home inspector coming through? And the realtor?]
—> Oh, to create a house that can possibly become a home.
…A book, that can become a refuge — a place where dreams can sprout, and even fly…
“Originality is a by-product of sincerity.” — poet, Marianne Moore, 1887-1972 in Paris Review interview
I think what’s happening now is the process of interior architecture. I knew someone once who designed displays for the INSIDE of the National Gallery of Art who was a trained architect. Something like that is what’s happening now with my piece I think. So, the work continues…