It is a puzzle to me as it is…I sit down and start to touch the keyboard and stuff gets on the screen that I rarely if ever get to change.Sometimes something seems awkward. I change that. There are typos, I automatically change them. But as for content? Eh. I usually know exactly what I want to write and it appears—in full—much to my surprise.
Now, I'm not saying that it’s all wonderful. But after all the thinking I do, it ought to be. I will mull over a scene for days and days until I know exactly how it should go, the I get it down. It is a waste of my time to sit and write and write and write only to have to write it all over again once I’ve figured out how I want it to go.
At one time, I worked for a man who had money to burn but holes in his shoes. He was writing what was going to be the literary fiction masterpiece of all time, guaranteed Pulitzer, maybe even Nobel in Literature. Every day I’d go up to his house and type as he spoke. Problem was, he kept going over and over the exact same words in the exact same sentences until it came to the point where I typed them before he said them. He got only so far…I think he was getting somewhere that even he couldn’t go. What I remember was a woman and her son, the son was spoiled, there was a junkyard and then suddenly there was a scene with live lobsters escaping the boiling pot and her smashing at them with an oar. Indoors. On Long Island. This must have been back when lobsters were still less than ten dollars a pound.
But the point is, he kept going over and over his stuff, never really changing anything, not a word, not an apostrophe. Just the same scenes rehashed or just hashed out because I should think rehashing would bring about some changes.
But they didn’t ever change. He never really added anything after his initial burst of story.
That’s not the way to write.
My way isn’t for everybody, either. I have the luxury of not having a deadline. I also do not have the luxury of an agent or editor chasing me for another book. All I have is what gets down eventually.
Okay, I'll admit to something most writers probably do not have: I don’t sleep very well. It takes me forever to fall asleep and then I tend to wake up around 3 a.m. and stay awake for a couple of hours. I don’t waste that time, I think.
When I start out with a story, I already have planned the beginning, the middle, the black moment and the end. I don’t do anything but jot down notes at this point. Then I do research, if necessary. My new story takes place during the very last nine days of World War II. Since I wasn’t alive then, I had to research rather heavily, and talk with old folks who were alive then. I take notes. I see scenes in my head. I remember them, even if I do not remember what I had for breakfast that morning. Then I may come up with a title (this one has changed twice as better ones come along) and a first line, first paragraph, then it starts rolling and more pages come out until I’ve gotten to the third paragraph hook where I stop and think some more.
In my head, I always know where the story is going. I can write inside and outside of the line, but always with the same goal. No story has ever changed in mid-stream. Front to back, top to bottom, beginning, middle and end.
It is hard for me to realize what it must be like to have only a certain amount of time to come up with a new story, new characters, names for everywhere and everybody that fit, the setting, the date, is this a real place, a fictional place or outer space? I know all this in advance, write down key points on note cards (I do not rely on the computer for this stuff) and when the spirit moves me, I start back again.
It is getting near that time. Mermaids Arms is coming.