I realised on waking this morning for the 4th time, that there is a clunder of whizzing things inside my head. Actually, whizzing things probably don’t ‘clunder’. A clunder sounds heavy, thick, like old porage. A clunder of sticky oats. that’s better.
Moving on……….this ‘whatever’ of whizzing things can make a girl want to get up and sort some of them out, and yet, on the first 3 wakings, it was still dark as chocolate and I didn’t feel like rising into it at all. But I did lie there staring at where the ceiling probably still was, to notice each whizzer one by one. The to-do list is there of course, but being of superficial importance, is quite easily parked. That list can take over a girl’s whole thinking if she isn’t mindful of its anaconda properties. After all, if the carpet behind the tallboy is not hoovered today, the spiders will be overjoyed. I hate losing spiders up sucky pipes anyway. We need spiders.
So, list parked, now what?
The evolution of characters inside a story is a process I cannot rush, nor can I speed it up. I can set aside the time to write each day that I am on the island, but if there is a part of the tale that is dependant on something evolving inside my own life, then I am at the mercy of Old Father Time, and I must patiently and mindfully wait.
When the horses in my mind are pulling me along, straining at their bits and pounding along a wide sunny path, everything flows like honey, but when they come across a fallen tree, they have to stop and so do I. I can get off the wagon, study the obstacle, tell you all about how it lies and why I think it fell, and whether or not it is deciduous or evergreen, but I can’t move it one half centimetre out of the way.
I am not in control at this point. Or am I?
Well, yes, I am. I am in control of my response to the fallen tree, and I have two options. I can puff and snort and shake my fist at the skies, creating not one ripple. I can shout and swear and give myself a sort throat. I can turn my wagon round and go back the way I came.
Or, I can water the horses, loosen their girths, let them refresh and graze. I can sit on the trunk and notice the mosses, touch the places where the bark is torn away, lean my head to the trunk and listen for the dying heartbeat. I can think into the shade it has offered and the lower leaves it offered to passing deer. I can hear the chatter of nesting birds inside the protection of its many arms, and I can see the roots, wrenched from their moorings and reaching now like old fingers into the light. I can notice the shine on the worn leather harness as it lies against the warm chestnut necks of the horses and I can smell their sweet grassy breath on the breeze.
And then I realise that I don’t really need the wagon at all. I can leave it here, pull it over into that rocky scoop. It is laden with a load of bahuki anyway. Clunder I don’t really need at all. I can flip off the harness and ride one horse bareback, the other in tow.
So, the situation I had set the characters in, had become awkward and clumsy. I could feeling it growing more so, but kept writing them into it and then tried to justify it, when any reader would have spotted my error in a heartbeat.
It took a fallen tree for me to realise that.
Going back over an early draft is not how I work. Initially, I just flow, knowing that the energy of first words is a powerful one, although I will need to pick out the strands of that energy from a load of self-indulgent twaddle at some point.
However, if my instinct is to doubt the situation I am painting my characters into, then I must listen to that voice and allow it to manifest itself in a tree across my path. Often, the idea of re-writing any part of a story can be scary and tiring just to think about, but, once I begin, I can find happy surprises, like the moss on the trunk of it, brilliant green with tiny fragile flowers I never knew were there…..or the scars left by the torn bark, showing me a filligree beauty no human being ever designed……or the finger roots, twisted in search of life-giving water, once hidden, now a visual symphony just for my pleasure.
I can take off the harness and ride on.