While doing the dishes yesterday, as mindless a thing as it really is, I was struck by Inspiration. It has been a good eight years since this last happened.
When I was in high school, I had an idea for a young adult novel. By the time I finished the book (or as finished as a seventeen year old would write a novel), I realized that the storyline wasn’t complete and it really should be a trilogy. And so with that, I started writing book two immediately and, well, haven’t written much since because that middle chapter in a series has the most pressure to be better than its predecessor. Alas, it is now seventeen years later since I’ve plotted out any words for this book… until yesterday.
First of all, I’m horrible with doing things like “Outlines” and “Character Dossiers” even though I attempted to do both of these things with part two. I actually have more written for book three than I had total pages for book one when I originally wrote it, although after fleshing it out and deleting unnecessary or unneeded scenes (a painful process to say the least) back in 2004, I managed to double the size of the first book. Book two, on the other hand, I only had three chapters written, along with random thoughts and ideas thrown out on two different computers for possible plot points which, of course, would only come in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping.
Second, I love the process of writing that involves nothing more than an inanimate object for inspiration. My Creative Writing teacher in high school gave us an assignment whereupon he brought a pile of dirt and told us to write about it. I immediately started writing what would become a key chapter in the first young adult novel in this series I’m trying to finish. Of course, the teacher asked for a poem or short story, and me being me, chose to write a chapter in a book. Poetry isn’t one of my strong suits, but I must admit, I find them easier to write the older I get. Anyway, the teacher wanted more, so each weekly assignment we were given was the next chapter in the book and by the end of the year it was done. Well, mostly done.
After submitting it for publication the following year, I received some excellent feedback, but ultimately a rejection. The editor asked one very simple question that has stuck with me ever since: “Why should we care about these characters?” It was blunt and honest and true. In my head, these characters were very real, but in black and white they were one dimensional and lacking personality. After that, life got in the way. Being out in the real world made for a very different perspective. Experiencing life that, while sheltered in high school I never could fully appreciate, helped me realize what I needed to do. I knew I had to reread the first book and figure out what I could do to make it work. It was a promise I made to my grandmother on her deathbed, and a promise I intend to keep, no matter how long it takes.
And so, while holding a knife and cleaning bits of stuck-on garlic carefully so as to not slice my fingers off because, yes, it is that sharp, a scene that would fit perfectly into book two popped into my head which helped me plot out the rest of the book. Sometimes Inspiration takes her time, but when it hits, magic happens. I can’t wait to continue with this next chapter in my life.