Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Uh Oh, or The Past Rises Again

I'm getting glimmers of an idea. A novel idea. A novel novel idea... oh who am I kidding, it isn't that novel, not for today's pop culture and not for me. But it is starting to excite me.

I'm thinking this is the direction I'll go for November, for Nanowrimo. I already mentioned it, but the ideas are starting to billow and fill up. I still have two months to go until I start it. And I like it that way. What that means is that I have to sit with the ideas, as exciting as they are, I can't just up and start writing out of inspirational juice. What that means is that they will keep bubbling. I'm mixing my metaphors and I don't care. I have two months to think about characters and setting and plot. I can draw maps and sketch faces, do outlines and interview my heroes. I can create idea webs and play with the thoughts setting just on the edge of my cloud of consciousness. Oh, what fun.

What has inspired this latest creative bloom? It's a book that I finally picked up and started reading. I am really late on the bandwagon. The teenagers are gaga over it. There's a movie coming out this Fall. I avoided it because I thought it would be badly written and painful to read, but I'm finding myself caught up in it after only a few pages. It reminds me of being an awkward, too pale, too shy teenager, although no fascinatingly mysterious stranger saved me from certain death.

I do love Young Adult fiction. I love teen movies too. There are reasons why I chose to teach HS and not elementary. I think this November I am going to write YA. I want to do something fun and simple (meaning not an intergenerational saga following a million characters around a planet) probably in the first person. I want it to be a coming of age story. And I am thinking of incorporating parts of a novel that I was working on while I was a teacher. That one was a regular adult literary kind of thing, but I struggled with it for so long and then had a computer failure which lost chapters of my writing. I gave it up... but I think it might be ready to come back from the dead. No, that's not a hint that I am writing a vampire story... although it's not that far off the mark.

I have shades of worry that people will think I am writing this book to capitalize on the trend of teen paranormal fiction... but I'm not really, just being led by my inspiration and loves and history with books and fantasy and the stories I have already written, or have always wanted to write but have not. Oooh, wait! I can incorporate that dream I had so long ago. It tried to become a story but petered out and lost focus.

That is where this story idea is coming from. All over. A book I just picked up this afternoon. A quote that I read in passing. Talking with other writers about what kind of stories I like. A dream from fifteen years ago. A novel I gave up on writing five years ago. A setting from here. An ending from there. A theme from that one. An antagonist from this.

Sometimes I think the many many ideas I have had do not have the muscle to make it through to the end point because I rush to capture them. I get so excited about the concept that I think it is enough to take me through. Lately though, I have come to realize that a long work of fiction is actually about drawing from many different pools of thought, many different inspirations and complications. Novels, even the simple ones, really need to be complex and intertwined to sustain the length. I think this idea has the legs to withstand a two month incubation period. I think if it didn't... it wouldn't have the legs to sustain a novel.

When I was younger, and maybe not so young come to think of it, I used to think that I had trouble coming up with ideas to write about. It was hard for me, and sometimes I would start writing before I really had an idea I was passionate about, simply because I wanted to write SOMETHING. But when I look back at my lifetime of writing, I tried to write my first novel when I was 15, 23 years ago, I see how many ideas I did have. Few of those ideas made it all the way to the end of their story, that's true... but I am coming to understand that those stories did not disappear. They are still with me, and perhaps the work I did as a fifteen year old is still fueling my stories today.

Activity: Go through your old files. Read your old stories, your poems, your essays, your notes. Flip through your journals. Look for inspiration. Take notes on the best of the ideas. Put post it notes everywhere marking things you might like to use for new projects. Keep a list of ideas that give you a shock down your spine and make you blink rapidly. Remember the things that inspired you when you were younger, and let them inspire something new.


Anonymous said...

That is what I've been doing. With mixed results. Write from where you dream--isn't there a book that says that? Anyway, I'm looking forward to checking in with you during NaNo. I've got the merest germ of an idea.

D'Arcy said...

I LOVE this. I have a story I started at 14 and I still have the forty pages I wrote about it and I STILL know it would be an amazing YA novel.

I love this idea of creating different characters, conversations etc...of your mind's creations. I think it is so sad when I let an idea go, especially when I really have become friends with the people I've created. I know you get this and don't think that I am crazy!!

You are the second person this morning to mention Twilight. I actually couldn't finish it, it didn't capture me, however, I did go to school with Stephanie Meyer, she is mormon and I have heard that the metaphor of sexual tension with no fulfillment at the end represents her advocating abstinence....I guess I could see it, but then I also just think it makes a better story...even thought I haven't really read the story.

As a sidenote...yes, google reader. I get so busy during my weeks now that Saturday morning I sit down and see 115 unread items and I feel so overwhelmed. But I always hit yours first! Great post.

D'Arcy said...

and I can't WAIT to read it.

send me any ideas you need to bounce around.

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