We’ve turned the winter solstice corner, and days are noticeably longer. On the other hand, winter has us very much in its fierce grip. Forecast: snow, snow, snow!
I went next door to get a cup of hot chili from the Garage Bar & Grill and was asked by a local person, waiting for friends at a table, “How’s business this time of year? Is it slow?” Ha! If it weren’t slow this time of year, now that would be something to talk about! When I’m posting on Facebook more than once a day, local peeps can tell that business is slow.
But I’m limiting my online time this winter to those slow business hours when no one's in the shop but Sarah, giving myself more time for other activities at home – cooking, drawing, reading (of course), movies, and writing. On Thursday morning I woke early in the dark, around 4 a.m. It’s not easy in cold winter to drag oneself out of a warm, cozy bed in the dark, but my mind was buzzing with a story idea -- the characters, the setting -- and as I said to David today, telling him something about the new project, you just don’t say “Go away!” when a story wants to be written.
So. Coffee. Table lamp. Lined paper. Black ink pen. I knew I needed to get down at least some basic notes before the idea fled, but somehow two hours later, getting up only for coffee refills, there was about two-thirds of a first draft written out longhand. Later yesterday afternoon, at the bookstore, I transcribed the handwritten pages and moved the story ahead a couple of paragraphs.
It’s interesting when something like this is percolating or simmering or doing whatever it does on the back burner while one’s immediate attention is demanded elsewhere. I had a couple of customers on Thursday, sold a couple of books, spent time in conversation with David and a friend who stopped by, and thought about what we’d have for dinner that night. When we got home, I read for over an hour in the book we “Intrepids” will be discussing next Monday evening, and after dinner I told David I had to continue reading, because I have a lot of pages and thinking to get through before Monday’s discussion. Then this morning I overslept! So much for my plan to get to the end of a first draft before breakfast! But it’s all okay. I see more clearly where I’m going with the remainder of the story than I did yesterday afternoon, though I haven't added another word yet to paper or computer memory.
When asked how much time he spends painting, David sometimes tells people, “I’m never not painting.” Sometimes he is awake for hours in the middle of the night and tells me he “got a lot of painting done.” When I have something simmering, pretty much the same way. The burner is never completely turned off. My subconscious is still writing and making writing decisions while my conscious mind is making a grocery list.
The main challenge of this new story is a different kind of structure from anything I've done before. The whole story is told in third person, but the point of view rotates among the three characters. The shifts are, I hope, seamless. Still, I’m curious as to whether it will work for readers. We’ll see. Not there yet.
Meanwhile, bookstore today, reading at home tonight, and – according to my plan – another morning of writing tomorrow, beginning long before the sky is light.