In reading over The Hawk: Part One, I must admit I’ve been struck by how that novel opens, in that as often happens, I didn’t start writing with much more than an idea and a big helping of inner belief. Call it the muse, call it anything you like; sometimes decent writing occurs simply by the act of typing out prose.
I want to note this, because maybe I take for granted how words can accumulate as if they are strands of fabric thrown in the direction of the wastebasket, but not quite making it. I hoovered this morning, taking special care in the grotto, as I was starting to wade knee-deep in scraps from a couple of days spent fashioning improv place mats for my nieces. Two are in the can, one left, Cinderella I believe. But it’s not merely sewing that keeps me humming. I might not be writing anything at the minute, more than a thank-you post card to my nephew for a Lego man who appeared in our post box yesterday. However, I’m reading a novel recently released, checking for erroneous sentences and/or typos. And as I stated above, I am gobsmacked at how, at times, a story comes together by sheer, well, blessedness.
When I started writing The Hawk, I was envisioning a short story. Now, insert a hearty chuckle here, because that novel currently stands at over 300K, and is *hopefully* about halfway done. And other than some revising as I wrote it, which I normally don’t do, it’s the same story as when I began typing in October 2013. Now, what I mean is that as I wrote, more plot was added, but the way the novel begins is unchanged from over a year and a half ago; I just wrote and wrote and then found myself with more twists and turns than originally imagined. Yet, the story seemed well positioned for such sturm und drang, so I kept writing, taking breaks due to life’s alterations. That too was new; previously my novels were pounded out with relative speed. But then, none of my novels have anything on The Hawk’s epic nature. And that wasn’t planned either, it just evolved as I told more than one tale. Eric and his wife Lynne are the main characters, but Sam and Renee Ahern, Stanford Taylor, Laurie Abrams, Marek Jagucki and Seth Gordon have joined the Snyders with plenty of their own drama. The Snyders, Aherns, and Mr. Taylor are mentioned either directly or inferred within the first chapter. The rest arrive later, but now midway through, are pillars of equal strength, as if they had been invisibly tucked in the corners of my brain, merely waiting for this time in my life to exist.
And this is where faith comes into the process; it’s trusting your instincts as a creative force to just let the words, or whatever artistic tools you choose, go where they will. Now, I will say that it’s not like I just started writing in the last few years; I’ve been at this since late 2007. In those days I plotted out a novel to the nth degree, which at the time was good for me, and fun too. But over time the rules have loosened; it’s similar to how I now sew a quilt without having to pull up a site telling me how to attach the binding, or the improv place mats themselves. It takes a certain amount of comfort in any task to move outside the boundaries. Writing The Hawk has certainly pushed me to places I never thought I could go.
One of the reasons I blog about writing is to share information, hoping it will encourage another wordy soul along their prose-laden path. However, this particular gem, if you will, is hard to qualify, for it relies upon a rather ethereal basis. Faith is probably not what many think is crucial when it comes to putting words on paper, virtual or otherwise. Maybe I can compare it to learning to ride a bike; you pedal with the safety of training wheels maintaining the balance, or more rightly they keep one’s butt on the seat and not splayed out along the concrete. But as the liberation from those unnecessary wheels is realized, how much thrill is also captured, as the wind blows through your hair, against your face, while the bike feels a little wobbly, but you aren’t falling to the ground.
You are riding that bike as it was meant to be ridden, two wheels only. No loving parent steadying it, just you, the cycle, and freedom.
Now, that isn’t to say all’s perfect. No novel is good to go right out of the gate. But sometimes a story is far more formed than we authors are aware, as we type and type and type and type and type. And of course, there is the allowance for faith to weave through the work, being cognizant that sometimes there is a method to the madness. My faith doesn’t check out when I sit at the computer; maybe I’m considering wild plot lines, but it all comes back to the very core of my being. Breaths are taken as I write, which is as natural as to Whom I give thanks for those involuntary actions. And amazingly, writing is another of those spontaneous actions which occurs, keeping me alive, and even rather sane.
What I’m longwindedly trying to convey is that sometimes writing is magical, if faith isn’t something to which you are so inclined. But if faith is how you take each breath, then yes, writing can be that natural and beautiful and simple. Not that it’s easy, but it can emerge without complication. The plot of your novel might be teeming with big tearful scenes, but the creation of the story doesn’t need to be that painful. What I will add to all of this is that like any pastime, writing takes practice, like keeping that bike on only those two wheels and not spilled to the ground, or sewing straight seams of the quilt-happy quarter-inch variety. I’ve only been a quilter for a year, and when I think back to my first production, my goodness. Yet, the deep joy of fashioning something so colourful, with a functional purpose, drove me to make another. Which led to another, and on and on. Books are the same, adjectives as the hues, verbs as the thread, subjects and prepositional phrases and proper punctuation like battings and backings and bindings holding the whole thing together. And now I’m getting cheeky enough to attempt improv quilting, dude!
Not sure I’ll ever write a story about a princess, but I’ve made one with this place mat. And who knows, there is still a goodly portion of The Hawk to sort. If royalty turns up, you’ll know the basis for that addition.