Let the story tell itself.
Here I sit, at start of a new year, starting a new novel.
Staring at the blank page, or in this case a blank word document, I’m filled with a sense of opportunity. About 90,000 words ahead lies a story of a character I have been carrying with me, but don’t yet fully know.
I know where she came from, but I don’t quite know where she is going, or how she’s going to get there. I know what is driving her, but I don't yet know her flaws. I have dreams for her journey, but to get there, she needs to reveal more of herself to me.
As my new novel, Kindred River, begins to form itself, I realize that starting a new novel is like embarking on a new relationship. I have the perfect story in my head. I’ve spent countless hours imagining it, but haven’t started to build it. I have hopes of where I want it to go, and the stories we’ll tell together, but I don’t yet know the steps to get us there.
Like a good relationship, a novel is a blend of hope and happenstance, work and words. There will be good days and bad, stories that work and other that need work. And sometimes I just simply need to get out of the way and let the story tell itself.
Ernest Hemmingway said, “the only kind of writing is rewriting.” And it occurs to me that relationships are the same: The only kind of good ones are those we’re always working to make better.
No one said this novel-writing habit was going to be easy.
Happy new year to you all.