I know that many of you out there are diving into the first draft of a novel this November, as it is National Novel Writing Month! The thought of so many brave people pounding out 50,000 words into their computers, notebooks, leather-bound journals or scratched onto cave walls fills me with a giddy, spastic happiness…and some concern.
Concern because, let’s face it, this process can be messy. Ugly, even. Especially when you’re in the middle – say, around mid-November or so. So here are some thoughts about my own messy writing process.
The first thing that really draws me to sit down and write a little snippet or two of a book is often the voice of the character. However, just because the voice calls to me first, that doesn’t mean it’s a fully-formed voice, with a fully-formed character attached to it. Those first words that the voice whispers to me are, for the most part, edited out by the final draft of the book. The voice transforms gradually as I learn more about the character. The character doesn’t show up at my doorstep, dressed and ready to go.
So I’m writing this to all of you who may be struggling with a wobbly voice in the middle of your draft. And I’m writing it to remind myself as well, as I deal with my own wobbly voice, my own new character who has yet to become really crystallized in my vision, or on the page. This is a journey we’re taking together, this character and I. We’re eager and a little shifty and anxious around each other, because we don’t know what to expect. Neither of us have packed properly for this trip, and my greatest fear is that we’ll get bored of each other in the middle of a long train ride.
But it’s a journey. We’ve only just walked out the front door, and there’s a whole world out there to see.