Tiny Bubbles . . .
I started a new book yesterday. In the way of publishing, I can't actually announce what it is that I'm writing yet, but I'm excited about it and I thought it would be fun to share my progress periodically. How does a novel get written? I've written twelve now and the truth is that I don't know exactly . . . It's like Geoffrey Rush says in Shakespeare in Love when asked how a troubled theatre production could possibly turn out well in the end: "I don't know. It's a mystery." And the truth is that it's different for each of us. I am very wary of anyone who says they can tell you how to write a novel in ten easy steps because . . . yeah, back to that It's Different for Each of Us thing. But, I love hearing about different approaches and processes and have learned from other writers sharing theirs. So, here goes.
For me, a novel starts in what I like to think of as The Bubble. Generally, I enter The Bubble with a vague idea of the plot of the book, perhaps a rough outline, and a good bit of research under my belt. My job in The Bubble is to block out everything else and just . . . write. I generally try to get 50 pages or about 13,000 words down in this stage of things. My goal is not to write 50 polished pages, or even 50 intelligible pages. My goal is to get things going, to create liftoff so to speak. To present my characters in their setting, to introduce the main conflicts between them, to kill someone off and make the death mysterious enough that my characters and readers will want to solve it, and to make sure that I and my readers understand what's at stake for my characters and why I should keep writing and they — once the book is done — should keep reading. That's pretty much it.
In order to enter The Bubble, I need to quiet down the noise in my head. That means less online time and it means trying to stay away from reading reviews. I have learned through trial and error that it means not talking to anyone too much about the book because talking about an unformed, unrealized thing too much can make it evaporate in front of you like, well, soap bubbles.
Here's a picture of me preparing to enter the bubble, with my most mysterious mug, since there is lots of coffee in The Bubble. Wish me luck and I'll check in soon to describe what it feels like in here and how things are going.