I’ve been writing fiction since nearly the moment I could hold a pencil, but I never considered myself an author until fairly recently. Even after I had joined authors’ groups on Facebook, and created a page there, I didn’t know. Even after I’d added “author” to my e-mail address, and created this blog, I wasn’t sure. It wasn’t until I’d run around my day job with a pencil, looking for a quick scrap of paper to make a note, because I’d just had an epiphany that illuminated a dark spot in my current work like a divine floodlight straight from Heaven itself. I ended up writing this eureka moment down on a piece of brown industrial paper towel, because I couldn’t let it get away. That’s when I knew.
The agonies of creation are sometimes aptly named, especially when the words are right there, and the time to put them down is not. When the time is there, but life somehow prevents it. Worse is when the words won’t come, time or not. Agony can become ecstasy when all of a sudden a phrase sounds so brilliant in the mind’s ear it should be sung rather than spoken. This amusement park ride is not restricted to the folks who write highbrow, capital L “literature”. If you just have to get it down, get it out, get it on the page or the screen, you’re an author, no matter what the snobs might say.
Whether you’re a good author remains to be seen. Some days, I’m convinced I’m amazing, others, I’m certain it should all be deleted before anyone sees it. I assume someday you’re sure, but then, I always thought a day would come when I’d feel like an adult, and though I’m squarely into “middle age”, that day has not arrived. So maybe even the big boys and girls have doubts, though of course they’ll never tell.
I never once considered my “process”. I wrote as it came, having little luck at forcing it, although I followed the advice of keeping to a schedule. With the day job, that meant cutting back on sleep. I never realized how hollowed out I’d feel when I was done, when that hour could be spent playing Candy Crush, or reading articles on how to sell myself like a cheap whore on the internet. Hey, whore is a term of endearment in my vocabulary! I learned that she (or he) who writes this way is known as a “pants-er” as in flying by the seat of one’s pants.
Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will recall that I flew way off course doing that, and my book stalled out and threatened to crash. Luckily my dear friend and writing guru prevented that, and helped me get going again in a better direction. I learned a lot, and continued researching my subject and genre while I did so. I visited the Muse twice, certainly inspirational, and discovered the story as I went.
I thought it might be better to be a plotter, those logical lads and lassies who outline, and create character descriptions that rival many biographies. How can you fly off course, after all, if you’ve got a map? Mine just said “Here be sex scenes” instead of dragons or sea monsters. I’m not sure that I can change my “process” any more than I can my height, or my sexuality.
I’ve had an inspiration for the opening scene of Switch It OFF, you see. And I think what will become the second one. After that, my map gets all misty. Even my destination is only vaguely visible at this point. I’ve attempted to outline, and all I get is a headache. I may be destined to chisel out my story like a sculptor brings life gradually to a block of stone, and feeling much like the stone is in my brain when my chisel gets dull.
As the sprint towards publication of Switch It UP—and it had better be a sprint, let me tell you—begins, I may have a small space in which I don’t have this concern. But the Muse is whispering in my ear, and he’s a dirty boy, as usual. I may have to take off without a map, or even a compass.