Where it’s at

Donko at work in Mama Racha

For those of you, although maybe I should drop the “those of,” since there is probably only one of you, interested in how things are going with “And It’s Only Love,” here’s a progress report.

225 pages I am willing to keep. I’m guessing that there is less than 100 pages lying in wait ahead, still blank and still hopeful.

I begin this work planning to tell a tragic love story (any other kind?) that was character-focused, and while that remains the heart, I have been surprised by a developing plot I had not imagined in the early pages. Some days I wonder if the plot hasn’t seized the story so intently that it may overwhelm the characters. That isn’t easy to control.

Every person who writes stories, especially stories long enough to become a novel, understands … wrong word, because we really don’t understand … realizes that this is probably going to happen: after a while characters come to life and virtually dictate to you, the writer, what they will and will not do, and the story takes hold and tells itself through your pen in its way, you be damned.

This is what I live for as a writer: the power of story-telling.

For any reader who did not see this photo in the now long ago disappeared blog, this is the girl this novel is about, and no, I have no idea who she is and never saw her before nor after the few moments in passing on a Buenos Aires sidewalk when I took this picture. She is the perfect stranger, going into the ancient future, acquiring a life she will never know.

She is Daniela Tolarova, called Danika


Categories: Conversations, Writing

11 replies »

  1. Nice. I know I’m interested. Of course I’m not the only one. One wonderful thing about your methodology is that page count increment really does provide a measure of progress. For those of us that hammer our intent or blow feathers at a text to discover what’s true, it’s always a guess or perhaps a marathon where fatigue becomes the ultimate ruler.

    Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. Our entire household has been plague-ridden and bedsore. Had my first bit of food in three days last night.

    And you’re right. Love can only be told tragically.

    • Brad, I am distinctly aware of how the look and shape of a thing influences how a reader perceives content. I think about how long this sentence is, or this paragraph, how this page looks, should there be a space break here, and all that kind of thing. It’s a mix – the words, the story, the characters, the shape, the look. I tell stories for the audience, not for me. I mean, I like what I do, but I am always conscious this is for the reader.

      Sorry to find out that your silence was imposed by health dilemmas. I am acquiring a few of those lately and worry that they will need attention sooner rather than later and interfere with my concentration. Take care and get back in the saddle.

  2. Oh, of course there’re more than one of us who’re interested. I think about this photo now and then and wonder how her presence – the destruction – is building, unfolding in your manuscript. And the joy of seeing a story develop a life of its own.

    Good luck.

  3. Hello you.

    Been busy on the writing front too which is a welcome first for me but enough about that.
    I am so glad that the novel is coming along and that your characters are walking and talking all by themselves. Judging from this post you’re on the home straight and the end is in sight which is a huge achievement. Will this story end as planned I wonder or does Danika have other ideas?

  4. Well, actually, Tracey, that’s not enough about that. Are you still working on screenplays? How did the premiere of your first go? You have a lot to fill in here.

    The story will end as planned. It’s the mess filling in the space before that end that mystifies me. It’s turning out to be less simple and straight-forward than when I began working on this story.

    Danika is so real to me that sometimes I dream about her.

    • I guess I thought your writing method was brick by brick, sentence by sentence, and no looking back … I still don’t understand how you are able to move forward in the plot, without ever changing anything that came behind. That is an ability that is utterly beyond me. Virtually none of the words from the first draft ever appear in the final draft of anything I get down, and everything front, middle, and end gets changed about a gazillion times in between.

      If a plot is constantly developing, doesn’t that change what happened before?

      I’m just curious how you manage to hold it all together over the course of a whole novel, sentence by sentence.

      • This seems simple to me, Court. It is in fact the fixed nature of each page that is projecting the necessity of the next page, and this has no plan. The next stage of the plot is created and sustained by and predicted by each of the preceding bricks. It’s just that I am not able to predict any of this, so that’s why it’s a surprise. Only looking backwards to necessities reveal themselves. It is the very act of making each page the way it must be before going to the next one that is the stacking of the bricks of the plot. If not, if there are mistakes in the foundation, whatever plot appears will be just as weak as the base on which it rests.

  5. I can relate to dreaming about characters.

    The youth theatre production is in June and rehearsals are well under way apart from a short break over Easter. I’m not really involved at the moment but will be invited along for the dress rehearsal. This suits me to be honest.

    I began adapting the script and ended up with a total re-write of course. The original is fine for the purpose it was written but I needed a lengthier piece for my professional calling card which is much harder. I have a beginning, middle and end to work with but as you so rightly pointed out, it’s the bits in between that cause the frown lines to appear. I’m having a wonderful time figuring it out though and it feels like coming home, as though this is what I am meant to be doing. I think I’ve finally found a set of writing clothes that fits and you must take some credit here for nudging me in that direction.

    Funny how things turn out isn’t it?