Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Words in the Woods
Often I do my best writing in the woods or in the pool. I start my workday either walking my dog or swimming laps. I’m not a morning person, and I can’t tolerate caffeinated coffee, sadly. A cup of tea and exercise gets my mind going.
On a sunny Saturday, Henry (above) and I explored the Josephine Newman Audubon Sanctuary in Georgetown for the first time. Our kids had opted out to do homework. This stage of parenting is liberating. We were alone in the woods and free to talk without interruption. My English husband and I first met in the USA, but we’ve lived in the UK for three years together, including my junior year abroad and his sabbatical at Oxford University. I’ve been mining these experiences for NOT CRICKET (now renamed A MATCH FOR EVE), but I had put that novel aside to write as u like it.
Returning to NOT CRICKET a year later, I could see why I had gotten stuck. It wasn’t writer’s block, I can always write something, but the narrative was spiraling in too many directions. I had three locations, three main characters, two time periods, clashing dark and humorous elements and enough plot for two books. I’ve had this problem before and labeled it plot sprawl.
As we arrived at the sanctuary, the solution was as clear as the blue sky. All I had to do was cut the superfluous plot string and a marvelous character and save her story for a later book. I was left with a love story between a plucky American and a charming cricket player. The woods became crowded with imaginary people, and I was transported to the opposite shore of the Atlantic.
“I don’t really like it,” Henry said. “I love it!”
I had written myself out of the woods. Now it’s time to shut my office door. Other than the first chapter, I don’t let anyone read my work in progress until the manuscript is complete. Instead of not seeing the forest for the trees, I’m now seeing the story for the pages.
Blog watch: I’ve always loved the name of this creative blog: Walk2Write. Maria Padian posted “Where Stories Begin.” Marie Mutsuki Mockett blogged about writing her second novel while caring for her newborn in "The Stephen Jay Gould Theory of Writing." Dawn Maria blogged about revising a novel: Alphabet Soup.