I’ve been really itching lately. Why yes, fall allergies have lingered into winter. And no, I’m not having a flare up of an embarrassing rash (but thanks for asking!).
The itch is coming from that fire within all writers to spend long hours away from our families and friends, locked in a room watching a story unfold in our mind as characters whisper their deepest and darkest secrets. This particular itch that needs to be scratched comes from the Muse. She’s ready, she’s waiting. She wants me to write.
And I’m ready to write. It’s been about six months since I finished the first draft of Pardon Falls, the sequel to Phoenix. The same amount of time has passed since I re-read it and realized ways to make it stronger, to put the characters in tougher binds (because it’s kind to be cruel, at least in fiction) and to raise the stakes of the story. I’ve been busy with preparing Phoenix for its release. Now that it’s out there, it’s time for me to turn back to Pardon Falls.
I’m a pantster when I write. Most of the time I know what I’d like to accomplish with a scene, but I don’t map out the entire story. Sometimes the story goes where I expected, other times it takes a surprising twist or turn that could only happen when the writer gets out of the way and lets the tale tell itself.
Phoenix was the same way when I finished the first draft. Plot lines needed tidying up, characters needed strengthening, it’s all part of the editing and polishing process. It took me several years to mold Phoenix into the novel it is today, but I don’t have that luxury with Pardon Falls. The rewrite I’m about to embark on needs to nail it – or at least hit close enough that a few additional taps with the hammer gets it in place. To remedy it, I banged out a four-page, stream-of-consciousness rough synopsis, backwards I know since these usually come after the work is complete, but I guess this is my own loosey-goosey version of an outline.
Looking over this rough synopsis I realized: I am looking down a very different road than the first draft took me.
I should follow the Muse and trust in her that she wouldn’t lead me astray, but what if she was
drinking distracted when she gave me that synopsis. What if I end up writing myself into a corner? And, what if a third road emerges when I finish this draft?
Fears of a sophomore writer, I know. I should just get out of the way.