Saturday, April 24, 2010

Holding On

I've been trying to decide how to identify a brave action as opposed to a determined but useless one. This is rising from a writing challenge that I'm undergoing in revising last year's draft of a novel featuring a sentient planet, genetic mutations, and feral, snappish, living books. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Should I abandon such an apparently episodic, shaggy-dog story in favor of stories with clearer plot lines?

Last night, I had one of those 'writer moments.' It was dark and I was dozing on the futon while the dogs snoozed in their pens. As I tossed plot bunnies out into the thirsty lawn of the imagination, I envisioned my novel as a not-yet-adult child sitting there with me on the futon waiting for me to decide whether to abandoned it to its own difficulties or to support it through this conflict-ridden period. I've never conceived of my books as children before and I've never had the emotional experience of feeling like abandoning a book was a abandoning a responsibility.

It's possible (probable?) that I'm looking for ways to make myself care enough to dig back into the text. That being said, I know that I've been feeling like this story is just something that I came up with to fill a word count quota, that it's not "my" story in the same way that the fairy tales about spiders and bees and elvish truckers are mine. It didn't grow up in the soil of childhood.

Instead, this story grew during a November spent in Panera Bread, the Montgomery County Library, and the reclining chair in front of the Pumpkin King's monster TV. Specifically, it was last November, in no way part of my youth. Yet, it is a complete story (except as plots change, as they do while being revised). There are toads and snakes instead of spiders and bees (although I believe there will be spider as well), madness and wormholes and dreaming planets intent on owning consciousness. There is a ghost on a road, a road that only be walked in one direction because it is a stretch of The Road, the one that catches its tail and brings all those who journey on it round about again rather than letting them become retrograde to their stories and go backward. If you leave home on The Road, you'll only find it again after you've completed the entire circuit and some of us never will.

Perhaps this story is my child and my road. Perhaps it is a will-o-the-wisp and I am about to leave the path.

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