I feel like I haven't written any substantial, interesting blog posts in weeks...
That might be because I haven't, but the jury's still out on that one.
I kind of figured out why it's been so quiet here. I haven't really had a project to talk about and groan over and inspire interesting posts. I've had a few ideas, here or there, but they all got abandoned or petered out after, say, 20k words.
Then finally, a few weeks ago, something in my brain clicked, and I decided what I wanted my next book to be about. I had to wait, though--it was one of those ideas that kind of shimmers at the corner of your eye, but if you look at it directly, it'll disappear.
Yes, some of my ideas are like eye gunk. Beautiful analogy.
Anyhow, then I sat down last Saturday, finally feeling ready to brainstorm. And the idea, which had been about three words in my head, ("about a cult"), just came pouring out onto the paper. Suddenly all these characters were popping up in my head, and plot threads were branching out, and possibilities I'd never even considered were appearing.
And let me tell you...most of it is pretty scary.
Not because the idea itself is scary, but because many facets of it are going to involve stretching myself to places I've never stretched before. This is a whole new ballgame for me, folks, and I don't really know the rules.
For instance, I'm setting it outside of Pennsylvania. Every book I've written has been set here, because this is my comfort zone, and I know it. But the very nature of this book dictates that it must be set somewhere else. And I'm going to have to create that setting, not out of whole cloth but from scraps of other cloths, so to speak.*
Also, massive amounts of research will be required. I'm actually pretty good at research--I've been a college student and a journalist, so that skill has been honed pretty well--but it'll still be a giant pain. A pain I think I'll enjoy, though.
As if that isn't enough, I'll have to channel a completely different voice for the protagonist. I know this is confusing, because I mentioned in my little asterisk note below that the novel is set in the present day, but her voice will have to come from about 300 years ago. One of those it-is-but-it-isn't things.**
There are many other things, smaller things, that will crop up and make my life difficult, I'm sure. This will not be an easy book to write (of course, there's no such thing). I've explained the idea to my two sounding boards,*** though, and they're both very excited. Both of them think it could be really great. Thus, I'm utterly terrified that I'm not going to do it justice.
That's the name of the game, though, right? Do me a favor and scroll down to the bottom of this blog and read the quotation from John Irving posted there.
That's going to be my life for at least the next year.
Let the terror begin...now.
*I realize this is confusing. Let's put it this way: the setting will be in the real world, located near places that really exist, but it won't really exist. Less confusing? No? Oh well.
**No, it's not a time-travel novel. Not my thing. I'll leave you to wonder what on earth I mean, because I'm not going to explain it fully.
***Until the novel is well under way, I will not tell the full idea to anyone else. Ideas in their baby stages are very fragile, shiny things, and if exposed to too many eyes, they can lose their luster or break into a million pieces. Learned that the hard way, I did.
If you don't feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then possibly what you are doing isn't very vital. If you don't feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough. --John Irving