Stories happen, but they don't just happen. Know what I mean?

Life continually reveals assorted tales, anecdotes, adventures and revelations. How noble it feels, wishing to craft them into valuable reading experiences for other people. But my desire to do so is always only a first step.

Two and a half years ago I got an idea for a novel. It would express, I hoped, some of the emotions I've dealt with after growing up a preacher's kid and then stepping outside of mainstream church-going traditions. My characters would face into issues of belief in God from several differing perspectives. Their experiences and reactions would pose questions I've asked myself and some I'd like to ask Christians who remain committed to traditions I no longer grasp so tightly.

Six months ago I began my most intensive attempt so far to launch into and complete the book I'm calling Stained Glass. With a fair amount of time each week devoted to writing, I envisioned the numbers: 2000 words per week would equal 8000 per month and 48000, nearly half a novel, by June. Even if I only made half of that, I'd be well on my way. And, as it turned out, I wrote 25000 words by the end of May.

But I've learned stuff since then. Lots of good, experiential lessons that I'm sure I'll continue to make use of and ponder. Here are a few:

-- I don't do well with numbers; in fact, they freak me out. I'm more creative ousting the word/page goals.

-- I'm a reader of fiction trying to become a writer of fiction, and they're two different critters. It's sort of like switching from passenger to student driver. There's a lot of new stuff involved in learning to take control.

-- Readers of my story have brains. They take the first bits I hand them and expect that my words will lead them in a reasonable direction. They're anticipating, not just absorbing. I must learn not to implicitly promise future scenarios on which I don't plan to deliver.

-- Really good stories have remarkable characters. So far, I haven't created a character that I especially like to remark about. (There is one in a short story I've written, but none so far in my novel idea.)

These and other insights have led me close to concluding that those words I've written so far this year must languish in their files, chalked up to this fictionward process but not of a quality yet to spit and polish for an agent or editor. Maybe they'll find breath at some point, when I discover a character ready to charge onstage and activate them.

But here's a big part of the deal for me: I need to learn to activate that character, give her motivation and poise, maybe even a less-than-angelic attitude. That will take determination and confidence on my part; I'm hoping to whip it up soon. Whip it good.

Yet in many ways I must wait for my recent education to gel inside my brain and being. As with life stories, I think, important pieces of the puzzle will "happen" to clearly fit one of these days. They will become accessible, viewable. And so I must plod forward, writing. Whether I count words or not, I must bring them forth and probably abandon a lot more.

From what I hear, though, I happen to be in good company.


Annette said…
I really like and am inspired by your thoughts about your experience with wrangling your creativity with some discipline and a consistant effort and seeing what happens. Sometimes I think my creatitivy is supposed to just want to flow out of me all the time, but I have learned that small progress every day is a powerful tool and once my creative self gets used to the bridle, I can ride that horse (metaphorically speaking). May I link to your blog?
Deanna said…
Sure, you're welcome add a link here. I'd like to link to your site, as well, as soon as I learn how to do that. Thanks much for the comment.