“Not writing is a good deal worse than writing.”
~ Flannery O’Connor
I’ve been working away at a manuscript all summer, a story that has emerged from a few tiny clues that came at me during unlikely times – at the grocery store checkout, or during rehearsals in the middle of the busiest time of the Symphony season last spring. This story is unlike my last novel, which, once I found my toe-hold, came very quickly; in fact I had trouble keeping up with the first draft.
The new one has been a completely different experience. One clue led to the next, and I started putting bits and pieces together, painstaking and at times frustrating work. This is pure fiction; there is no road map, no real history to hold things together or lead the way. But I’ve kept at it and it’s grown. It is now longer than a short story, and still growing.
Suddenly there’s a chap named Harry. Well, all right, then. Come on in, Harry. I’m not sure who you are or what you’re doing here, but let’s see what happens. What do you do for a living, Harry? Why do you matter, Harry?
Oh, and there’s a glass vase in the shape of a cat? Hmm, all right. What’s it doing in So-and-so’s house, and is it important to the story, or just a pretty detail?
And there’s that young woman’s grand-niece’s daughter, playing with the woman’s croquet set using a yellow plastic baseball bat. How does this little girl fit in, ninety years later? What’s her deal, does she have a sister? A brother? Oh, a cousin, you say.
It’s been hard work, and I’ve been full of equal parts doubt and delight as I’ve worked away at it.
At times, I recently told a friend, writing fiction is like pushing through a cement wall.
You just have to keep going, keep writing, keep pushing, and eventually you’ll get through.