As the pages in the new WIP accumulate, my characters grow fierce. Their voices, once faint and willowy on the page, are now a force. Their strength rises from the page as heat off the asphalt on a two-lane highway does in the Mojave Desert. I am in awe of them and the story as it welds its power on the page, and over me.
I tell myself I am in control, and to a certain extent, I am. I decide when to sit down and write, but after that, I take the back seat. I am not saying pink and tangerine colored Nymphs with transparent wings appear and spin a magical bond between the MacBook and my imagination, but there comes a point when my focus is so intense I can’t be sure. I come to the blank page with a setting and a theme but somewhere in the middle, I’d swear I could feel wings fluttering overhead.
At the start of a story, I have a vague sense of the story line. Vague because I don’t compose beautifully detailed outlines or plot. In chapter two, I couldn’t tell you what was going to happen in Chapter 11. I know where to start the story and where to end it, but I haven’t a clue about the journey or the pages between, until I type the words. The process a writer follows as she weaves nouns and verbs together, dips and dives emotional obstacles, to create a world only she can see, is as unique as the chromosomes that gave her amber colored eyes and chocolate brown wavy hair.
I think of myself as the architect sitting at her desk. On the desk are a sketchpad and a number 2 pencil. As she begins the sketch, she’s certain a two story Victorian will emerge, but three hours and six cups of green tea later, what she’s drawn isn’t what she had in her mind’s eye, it’s so much more.
She sets it aside knowing as she does there is more there than what she sees on the page. It will remain a flat image until the rooms take shape, the joints come together, and she sees people milling about. Until she feels the energy, it’s only an image. This is how if feels when I start typing at page one. I have a foundation but I’m waiting on the characters. As all Divas do, mine arrive late to rehearsal, stumble over their lines, miss cues, under dress, and leave their shimmer behind until about word 39,000.
When the story heats up, my Divas are on time, bitching loudly of course, but once their mojo kicks in, nothing, not even my ideas or expert direction, will stop them for taking charge or smacking me down if I get in the way of their three dimensional glorious selves. At word 39,001, there’s a shift. The lights flicker overhead. A cool breeze dances in and tickles my senses. I unbutton my blouse, roll up my selves, and inhale so deeply I get lost inside of myself.
I felt it last week. The fog in my head lifted taking with it the stale air. The view from inside my head is clearer than spring water in the Rockies, and the road ahead is one long stretch, of what this writer calls cinematic bliss. The story is there on either side of the road waiting for me to pull it into my pages. I am desperate to retrofit the story and rewrite the earlier chapters to fit the new energy, but I cannot. The mojo is best used while it’s blazing.
Before writing the first novel, I didn’t understand the in-between world a writer inhabits during the writing process. I finished the first novel aware of some ethereal place I visited during the writing of the book, but I lacked the vocabulary to describe the place, how it made me feel, and what took place on those blank pages. I typed THE END aware something beyond spectacular had occurred in me but it wasn’t anything describable. Besides, who in my everyday world would listen to me talk about the voices, and how the characters on the page grew stronger the further I traveled. My mind argued the Divas were not real, but I can’t swear on my heart they are not. All I know is I have vacationed in a place where magic happens. It’s where the writer, story, and characters dance.
I know this because I am sitting there now. It’s the crosswords of Imagination Avenue and Ethereal Way. And let me tell you, it’s like hell, heaven, a sandy beach at midnight, a thunderstorm over Miami in August, its hot chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, the third glass of pink champagne. It’s goodbye after a ten-year love affair, its hello to come-hither flutters from Mr. Lanky. It’s all this, and some kind of special.