Monday, April 17, 2017

First Drafts and Passages

With the first draft  of a novel  put away to rest---or cure, or proof, or ripen-- for the next two or three months, I have been thinking about the way each book seems to bring to me an inner crisis.

Some books actually begin with the crisis: the thing I’m feeling a deep need to work out; a yearning and restlessness beyond any understanding or resolution except via the irrational magic of making it into a story somehow.

At other times the crisis gathers force only when I am well into the writing, and suddenly the narrative takes over most of my energy and focus, until the story is shaped, completed.  This can be exhausting, physically and mentally.

Each book has had its own arc of crisis and resolution, and with experience I have come to learn—to feel inside—the moment of passage. That’s when I know the first draft—what I call the story draft—is ready, along with its writer, to rest for a while.

As one who is fond of sky and water metaphors, I can describe it like this:  The story that forms and becomes visible is shaped by things unseen, just as the waves on the surface of a lake or sea take their shape and form and motion from the vectors of the wind and tides, from the shapes and proportions of whatever lies hidden below.

                            Island-  Mixed media collage and scan by Kevin Macneil Brown, April 2017.