Yesterday I finally hit two hundred pages for my novel “Survival”. It was something that I never thought would happen at any point in the process of writing this story.
In the Beginning
It started out as a little imaginary life of four friends knocking around in New York City, which came to me one time as I was day dreaming, as we storytellers are prone to do. It didn’t have a plot, story line or anything else that made it stand out as something worth continuing. A large number of my stories came from daydreaming, and to sort out the good and the bad and the ugly, I tend to stick with the ones that have some sort of direction when I first dream them up, rather than having to start with almost nothing, and having nowhere to go. This daydream however, I remember was a particularly lengthy one, and even though there was no plot or direction, I couldn’t find a good excuse to pass it up, because by the time my daydreaming session was over, I had completely lost my heart and soul to these characters.
I hesitated however, I didn’t rush over to the notepad, or to my laptop as many writers claim to do right after they finish their astounding dream that was the start of a story that earned them $10 million overnight. No, I was nervous, the thought of taking the time to write down something that I the creator, had absolutely no idea, or a whisper of an idea of where this tale would lead, was frightening. I was an idiot. To excuse my imbecility, I had only written two books, and had never had experienced the phenomena of a story taking a life of its own, with little or no encouragement by us supposed “artists”. I should have shown some back bone and gotten started right away, and let it take me where it was going to take me. But I didn’t. Which brings up the question, if I had started right away, would it have turned into the story that it has become now? Would it have been better, or worse? We shall never know, but I can honestly say that I have absolutely no complaints about this manuscript, though it is far from being finished, I have no complaints as of yet. (I’m sure, once I reach the editing stage, my state of mind will be quite different.)
Once I finally wrote down all that my daydream had shown me, and a little bit more, (like I mentioned earlier, manuscripts tend to take on a life of their own once you let them take control.) However, I still had no plot, or direction.
I had a friend whom I had known for a few months, and we had discovered the “twilight” books together, and enjoyed the first three and had gone to see the first movie together. We were lounging in my room, and I mentioned that I had just finished writing a book. Before I could say anything more about it, she said, “Let me guess, it’s a vampire book.” Which prompted me to say, it wasn’t, in fact, it was a small collection of animal stories for children. While the pause after that was slightly awkward, the thought came to me: Why not write a vampire story? Before my friend left for the day, I had already made up my mind that I wouldn’t begin a new story; I would just change my unformed story into my own vampire tale.
Then the fourth and final “twilight” book came out, and I was thoroughly disappointed, as I believe a number of people were. “I could have written a much better ending than that.” I thought to myself. It wasn’t so much the ending that bothered me either, it was the fact that the characters that I had grown so fond of in that love tale, changed in the final book. They did things that I felt were seriously out of character, and there were a number of unanswered questions in the story. The “twilight” magic that had entranced me had been brutally murdered, it was sad really. Such a promising story curled up and dried like leaves on a tree. But it taught me a lesson, I needed to ask more questions when I write, make double sure that all the subplots, as well as the main plot, are addressed. It was then that I challenged myself, though it was entirely subconscious at the time, that my vampire tale would be better than all “twilight” series books. Am I crazy? You bet.
After my decision, subconscious as it was, I was still without a plot for my lovable characters, though I had forced the metamorphoses of one character from human to vampire (much to her displeasure I might add.) I let the story sit, unable to think past those first two chapters. There were times, after I had let it sit for some time, I considered deleting the darn thing and starting over again, or just deleting it and letting it die into nonexistence. A couple times I even sat down with the intention of just that, but then I would read a bit of it, just to see if there was something worth salvaging for another story, and I would find that it was all worth saving. Everything was good. You could say that each time I considered braking up; I would fall in love all over again.
People have this notion that there is only one type of creative writing process. That you must “strike while the iron is hot” or take the chance of losing that inspirational moment, and sometimes, yes, that is the case. But not in this case, the writing process for this tale started really slowly. The storyteller in me knew instinctually that if I left it alone, my subconscious mind would work on the story and would send my conscious mind a mental telegram when it was ready. But, as I mentioned before, I didn’t leave it alone, I kept going back, hoping that my iron would get hot this time, which probably made the entire process take longer than it probably would have, if my conscious mind had just stopped poking at my subconscious mind at let it work on its own without any interruptions. My excuse for this is, as I mentioned before, my inexperience in writing stories as a whole. I had only ever had the “strike the iron while it’s hot” kind of inspiration at this point in time. But eventually, my conscious mind got the message, and I left my story to settle while I concentrated on other immediate things: like moving across the country….
One day it happened, it was after my mom and I had gone to a new writer’s group meeting, called Coffee House Writers Group. The people seemed nice, and I was thinking of maybe joining along with my mom; and if I did join: which story would I bring? At first I thought I’d bring one of my finished tales, and see if I could get any helpful hints to finish it up. Then all of a sudden, I got my telegram from my subconscious mind. It had come up with a plot, but it needed my conscious mind to ask more questions to fill in the little pot holes (or more accurately: “plot” holes), if it was ever going to be a complete story and beat the cause of one of the biggest vampire crazes of all time…