Driving at night

In the past three years, I’ve edited some old writing and written down snippets to save for later, but being sick really shut down most of my inner life, so I didn’t write anything substantial. But for the last few weeks, I’ve been kicking around two or three ideas for novels, trying to find plots that would turn those characters and settings from static ideas into living stories.

Two days ago, I wrote an awful, boring paragraph of internal monologue for the story I thought was least likely to work. Yesterday, I took that awful, boring paragraph and reworked it as dialogue. Then I turned it into four pages single-spaced of a beginning that needs to be edited, but is good enough to be getting on with. Today I know what the following three scenes are.

I never write like this. I always write out a plot summary and break it down by scene, I fiddle with each scene in my head until I have it letter perfect, and then I write it down. I feel deeply uncomfortable writing a story that doesn’t have a plot yet and may not have a viable ending, or writing down scenes I know aren’t quite right yet so I have scaffolding to write what’s next. But I’m put in mind of the EL Doctorow quote: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”


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