Spending half a lifetime writing for oneself and reading the advice of professionals on "how to write" is quite a bit different than blocking out regular time to sit and write a novel. Even writing that I'm writing a novel feels a little fake, somehow, which is further evidence that this whole project has taken me deep into unfamiliar territory. I knew I'd signed up to write a story. I didn't know that I'd learn quite so much about myself and this process, every time I sat down to put more words toward this endeavor.
Yesterday's writing session provided me with a brand new sensation I've only read about over the years. Lots of writers talk about having the story unfold for them, having the characters "tell them" what the story is, or what was supposed to happen. Of course that made sense on an abstract, obscure level. Then yesterday I encountered it for myself.
Just like last Wendesday showed me, and that little hour this weekend, again I realized things about "my story" that I'd never realized before I started writing it. I discovered, too, that there is no novel until I sit for hours upon hours, learning what the story is. Because I'm a creative thinker, of course there's "a story - or 70 - in me," but knowing that is quite a bit different than having the discipline and dedication to sit down again and again and write until the snippets weave themselves together into a complete whole that will provide an enjoyable read for someone else. Just like last week thoughts came to me while I was writing that have never before crossed my mind. Sensations and phrases and observations and memories and opinions and curiosities and declarations... all of these intertwined in my mind and I typed for two hours, often just making groups of bulleted lists, sometimes making the attempt to capture a paragraph of dialogue - something that I'll admit to you right now scares me half to death - then more notes on how the story needs to unfold and what needs to be changed from my earlier rounds of notes.
Frankly, it's like working the biggest puzzle I've ever imagined. I have three squillion sensations and they have to unravel and reconnect themselves in different orders and on different paths, with the use of different landscapes and different histories than those I might have conjured before I started writing.
It seems most notable of all that now that I've started down this road, when I'm working on other things, I sometimes think of my novel and wonder what will happen next. I look forward to the next session and I have an overwhelming sensation of delighted curiosity.
"Delighted curiosity." I think I'll put that on my wall. It's a sensation I think I want to hang onto for a while.