November 1st is right around the corner, so I’m getting my mental and spiritual ducks in a row in preparation to tackle a novel for the first time in eight years. I wrote my last novel a few months before my first son was born, and got fairly close to landing an agent with it. That was extremely encouraging; I didn’t mind at all that the agent said, “I liked it, but I didn’t love it enough to offer it a contract.” That validation meant I was finally doing something right, after all those years of plodding and toiling and writing dreck. I sensed I was on the right track when I began getting handwritten feedback from editors when I submitted stories and poems (something I haven’t done in quite some time. Maybe after the novel).
I need to spend this weekend and next week getting to know my characters. As I believe I said in a previous post, this is one of my favorite parts of writing. Characters show up with stories to tell in their own, unique voices, and I have the privilege of listening to them and passing their stories onto readers.
It probably sounds hokey to anyone who isn’t a writer. People have told me before, “You’re just writing about yourself, Robert. All these characters are just aspects of you, but they’re buried deep. The only time they come out is when you write.” Perhaps that’s true, but I choose to believe something different. When I write–well, what I attempt to do when I write–is plug into the Cosmic Signal. If I’ve been good about daily writing and keeping my creative muscles loose, I’ve been reading good writing, and I’ve been meditating, and I haven’t been drinking too much alcohol, and I’ve had good sleep (I know, that’s a lot of requirements), I can usually tune into the Signal.
I know it’s working when characters take over and I kind of go on auto-pilot; they begin saying things that I haven’t planned, they instigate plans that would never consciously occur to me, and they often get up to no good, leaving me to wonder how the hell they’re going to resolve their issues. Sometimes they resolve them, and sometimes they don’t, much like life.
I’ll reveal some details of my characters over the next few days. Until then, thanks for reading…and if you’re so inclined, jump on the novel-writing bandwagon with me.