Furlough 43: How Novel

After a restless night where I got very little sleep, I still woke up at six, did my routine, made it to my desk for a three-hour session. Hell yeah.

I jumped into the rest of my notes and then worked on the paraphrasing exercise, which consisted of writing out a number of ideas about what this story could be about.

This was a trick I picked up from Stephen Koch’s book, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. The idea is to play around with your novel idea; to take liberties and to scribble out ideas, phrases, and lines to if they would work.

I knew I wouldn’t be sticking with what I had after I finished the rough draft (what I’ve written so far, although there’s a lot of it, ain’t a novel yet), so I was excited for this paraphrasing part.

The idea is you retell the story again but in a capsulated form. Over and over, I kept telling it, crossing out one after another.

This is good. Always keep looking for a different idea. I have somewhere printed a list of writing rules by the Pixar people, and one of them is “Pick your seventh idea” or something like that. I love that. Your true voice is only truly found when all easy options are gone.

After the seventh cross out, I came upon a story that really excited me; an idea that I’d not looked into but one which also made so much sense. And I knew it was a winner because I’d already been writing bits of dialogue and began to flesh out my main character.

I wrote out these story ideas with a pen and a yellow legal pad, which is my usual go to when I do longhand, and I attribute this process versus the laptop at coming upon my revised storyline.

There’s something about longhand. I know I’ve written about this somewhere before in this blog, but it bears repeating—I’m more creative, I’m more expensive in my ideas, and I’m more playful when I do have ideas when I write it in longhand.

I scribble. I make a little notes. I make pictures. I doodle and draw (something that I love doing creatively outside of writing). I go outside the lines and crisscross diagonally. There’s something about all of this being messy which feeds my rebellious side, an attitude that’s best to have when being creative.

So it’s exciting, yes, but also something else.

You see, normally when I come up on a big idea like this, especially at the very beginning of writing a novel, I get ecstatic and excited. I dance around, I hi-five myself. I make Pulitzer Prize acceptance speeches (“Who knew that a young man locked in his apartment during a pandemic…”).

But this time, the celebration ended quickly and I’m glad that it did.

I did get excited at first, but then I felt something like low-level dread, worry, a little bit of anxiety, and a little bit of fear.

And this is exactly what I need to feel as well because I am embracing the reality of what was in front of me.

This is such a beautiful growth point in my life. This fear and worry means I care about it and this anxiety and dread means I know that it will take work. Whereas before, my happiness and elation we’re more about the fantasy of becoming a writer, these new feelings were more grounded in the realization that A, Of course I’m a writer and B, Now it’s time to prove it and get to work.

This is a chance for me to really take this next step and not be diluted by fantasies of what this could mean for my ego or whatever it is.

I see this idea and I can’t wait to expand on it and grow with it.

You are all witnesses: This will be my new novel.

Have a safe and healthy day!

Create and Complete!

2 thoughts on “Furlough 43: How Novel

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