Friday, December 15, 2006

Handwriting and Mushrooms

Yesterday we had a day-long research seminar for work, so (horreur!) I was away from my computer all day. Fortunately I always use the less-apt talks in these seminars to work on the WIP in my notebook. Yesterday I'd been away from Book 2 too long to jump back in with real writing in that setting, so instead I made a bunch of useful notes: "what could be going on in Bordeaux right now?" {list}; "what would C. be thinking about?" {list}. I find that lists and handwritten brainstorming are critical for me to work out plot points, settle what's going on in my head, and get creative with new twists. Most of my best ideas have come in my little notebooks.

I saw another writer talking recently about a book coming to her "by hand" instead of through typing on the computer, which I found very interesting. Most of the time I'm perfectly happy to do my actual writing on the computer, to be able to fiddle, cut here, tweak there, use the online thesaurus. However, there are a few scenes in TMT that I wrote by hand in notebooks because I was stranded away from a computer with time on my hands--and two of them are perhaps my favorite scenes. One is the dream scene, where my MC connects with her mother through a somewhat prophetic dream; that one was written during a research seminar. The other is Katherine's first meeting with John, my currently posted excerpt. I started that scene in a hotel room in Estes Park, Colorado (in the hotel that Stephen King based The Shining on, by the way; it's supposedly amazingly haunted), and it was one of those times when I just couldn't bear to stop writing. John just popped up out of nowhere, a true "mushroom" to borrow Diana Gabaldon's term, and was so vivid to me I felt I could touch him, hear him. I finished that scene, scrawling as fast as I could, in the airport for my flight back. And interestingly, I think I only changed a few words here and there from the original notebook mess; it mostly came over intact.

I wonder if John would never have come into the story at all if I hadn't taken that trip. Isn't writing a kick? Sometimes I really do feel I'm reaching to some Other Side where these people exist. If John isn't real somewhere, he should be. {g}

Perhaps the lesson is that I should try to do handwritten work next time I feel stuck. Or maybe that I should go hole up in a haunted hotel more often...

Medieval Word of the Day: mordant: A device which clasps or holds something fast. 1. An ornamental hooked fastening, usually jewelled, on a girdle or belt.

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