It’s been awhile. I know. I apologize. Several people (dare I call them ‘fans’?) have written to me to complain: “Where did you go? Why haven’t you posted another Ramblings since that long, ranting thing you did about God? It’s been two months! You call yourself a Writer?? Come back!”
It’s humbling, and frightening. Pressure…I’m back.
Truth is, I have been writing. I am writing a new book–fiction this time–and I’m about a third of the way through the first draft. 17,342 words as of half an hour ago.
It’s a long road, this book writing gig. I started writing November 1, as part of the National Write a Novel in a Month thing. Goal: 50,000 words in 30 days. The rules don’t say the words have to be good, or coherent, or tell a decent story…the emphasis is on showing up every day and getting 50,000 of the little suckers down and counted.
I can’t help but think of Jack, in The Shining. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And crazy as bat shit, no matter how cleverly he spaced the words on the page.
So, I started on November 1, but at NO point did I say to myself, “Self, you HAVE to put 50,000 words down by the end of the month, no matter how bad they are.” I have my standards. I also have a life, two businesses to run, and a partner to love and adore–and all of that takes time.
“What made you decide to write another book?” someone asked me. Okay, I confess. I asked myself. And the answer is, It’s fun. It’s hard work, it’s challenging, but it’s immensly gratifying at the end of the road to hold a work in hand and say, “Wow. I did this. And, it doesn’t suck.””
I think it is this way with any creative endeavor. There’s the thought that inspires. There is the trepidation about beginning. (Blank page or canvas panic.). There’s the immersion in process–like a cold swimming pool, there aint’ no way fast into the water but to hold your breath and dive in. There is the occasional moment of exhiliration when it is going well, or despair when it isn’t. At the end, however, there is something that didn’t exist before, and never would have existed if you (or I) hadn’t made it so. Good, bad or indifferent. The result is important, but the process of creating is what it’s all about, at least for me.
What inspired me? I had a thought, on a rainy August night, on the front terrace of Casa de Mariposa Azul at Finca Luz, while watching the sunset over the volcano and sipping on my cheap Chilean wine. And the thought was, What if Nancy Drew and her sidekick George grew up, discovered they were, really, lesbians–forget about Ned what’s his name–, and moved to Panama? What if?
And from there, out of my childhood passion for mysteries, a story was born.
I spent a lot of September and October doing character sketches, plot outlines, and research. I interviewed experts, studied maps, found arcane websites, grilled my attorney about legal matters, and visited the police station in David. I have discovered a wealth of information about pirates, Venezuela, and smuggling. Regarding the latter, you simply would not believe the insane lengths people will go to in order to move a substance or item from point A, where it was illegally obtained, to point B, where it is illegal to possess. Really bizarre. Truth is stranger than anything I can make up!
What creative project is tugging at you? My suggestion? Begin. Make up your own NaWrNoMo parameter. Whether you hit the magic number is not as important as starting and seeing it through. Last week a good friend (and client) commissioned me to do a large painting. I’m terrified. I don’t know what to do. But, I can feel the germ of an idea lurking below the surface. I’m looking forward to it. It will take time for it to sprout…and in the meantime, I have this book to finish. And rewrite. And rewrite again.
One third of the way through draft one. Lots of work to be done, claro que sea. Pero, I have a feeling that Chasing Tropical Ice may have legs. Just like my glass of cabernet. Stay tuned.