Thursday, September 01, 2011

Living (or Writing) the Dream

John here. Last week, I was off the grid (this week, I rode out the hurricane and suffered through an extended power shortage). I was in the woods of northern Maine. (I’ve attached a couple photos here: Keeley, 2, preparing for the day and the view Mount Khatadin from the camp, which has been in the family nearly a century.) I caught no fish, drank too much beer, but I also plugged away on a short story and wrote what I think will be the first scene in a new novel.

Of course, anytime I begin a new book, I recall what Tony Hillerman once said: He had a desk drawer full of first chapters. Thus, in the grand scheme of things, writing the first scene of a novel is the equivalent to taking the first step of a marathon—there is no guarantee you will ever finish it. But we’re writers. We believe blindly (in spite of many rejections, for most of us) that we have something of value to say and (requiring even more blind faith) that someone will pay us for it.

Therefore, I remain optimistic. I really think there is something in this scene, something that I can run with. For starters, I have several intriguing (at least to me) characters and a solid conflict. And those who have read my previous posts in which I routinely claim to never know where I’m going when I start a book won’t believe this, but I also have the plot. Believe it or not, it came to me in a dream that left me awake at 2 a.m. and so disturbed I could not get back to sleep. I saw the protagonist and watched as he discovered a murder in progress. The scene will serve as my novel’s back-story.

I’ve gotten characters from dreams before but never a storyline. I’m curious to see how the writing process plays out. The important thing to me is that I’ve got a protagonist I like a lot, one around whom I could write a series.

Fingers crossed. I’m off and running.


Charlotte Hinger said...

The plot too? A gift from the gods.

Rick Blechta said...

What is it about holidays and starting new books? I'm one who tends to do this, and I've spoken to a number of other authors (of all stripes) who seem to do the same. Perhaps it's the freedom from being removed from the daily grind that causes this. Who knows? But it's a beautiful thing.

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