For thirteen days I’ve been pre-writing* a book.

*planning, outlining, researching

For weeks before that, I made a schedule for both prewriting and writing, with the goal of having a first draft done by December 31, 2018. I am nibbling off a combination platter of 90 Days to Your Novel, Story Grid, the Snowflake method, and many, many other guides, as well as what I’ve internalized as a reader, writer, and teacher.

The first major decision was to commit to one book. I wavered between the book of humorous essays and two other fiction pieces.

I selected one of the fiction pieces.

It’s hard. I’m terrified. That’s good.

The first baby step was taken at 10:11 AM on Wednesday, August 22. I broke the wrapping around the notebook I’d been saving for this occasion.

I immediately cut myself on the plastic, which is par for the course and, were I to predict, a sign of things to come.

I had the barest of ideas going into this, and now I’m holding that idea gently and approaching it with curiosity and questions, noting what excites and surprises me, capturing flashes of ideas.

It’s a deep(ish) dive into my entire experience as a human, as a reader, as a writer, and trying to lasso all that into something interesting, something compelling, something round and juicy.

There have been bumps already. School started this week and there’s extra Tetris-level packing of snacks and lunches.

We’re exhausted. There is nothing on autopilot yet, so everything takes thought and consideration. They are figuring out their teachers. I am trying to keep everyone on an even keel. Littlest has a bad cough keeping her up at night. Meetings and more meetings and things to sign and things to buy.

My twins turned 10, which is no small thing and rightly our lives focused on that for many wonderful hours.

My husband and I are also both sick.

It’s a lot. Brains are tired.

I don’t feel good when I’m not writing, and I’m finding that I am, if not enjoying the process all the time, certainly feeling rotten when I’m not doing it. I yank the energy up from unholy places I didn’t know I had.

The view helps.

Around Day 5, I began doubting my story, and I haven’t even really started it. Have I written enough in my life to attempt something like his? Have I read enough? What the hell am I doing?

Who do I think I am?

And that’s what most things come down to, right? Who do we think we are?

I’m understanding the siren song of social media and staying away from it during writing times, but lord I am pulling from some painful experiences to write this book. I’m getting mad at people for events that occurred months and years ago.

All I have are shadows of ideas.

And fear.

I’m trying to dig gently into the soft soil of the story, but I keep hitting blocks of fear.

But we push through that, don’t we?

Right now, I have a general structure, some characters, and a library of images and emotions in my head/notebook that I will somehow weave or cut into a book-shaped thing.

It’s a baby bird, this book, and I need to build it a nest before anything else.

With an understanding that this is all very fluid, so far I’ve:

  • Identified my idea reader, genre, probable word count
  • Wrote a mission statement
  • Identified a physical goal for my protagonist
  • Identified what my protagonist wants/needs
  • Begun a list of themes/motifs
  • Begun writing some diary entries from the POV of my protagonist and my antagonist(s)
  • Written a rough outline of major plot points
  • Identified protagonist’s conflict(s)
  • Identified protagonist’s flaws and weaknesses
  • Written one-page summary sheets for each of my main characters
  • Written a tight one-sentence synopsis of the story

The big take away so far is that the human condition is a scary, sacred thing.

I’m blogging my process to leave breadcrumbs. It’s not all going to work, and what does work may only work for this particular book.

Sometimes breadcrumbs are good for nothing else but feeding birds.

Birds need to eat, too.


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