Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And so we begin...

Here is the perfect image for "Place of Safety." I think it was taken by Eamon Melaugh, a Derry photographer. I've been digging into my research on the story in preparation for the 1st, and I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed at what I'm attempting...but also feeling confident enough to just do it. This book's my decades-long marathon, and I'm just now catching my second wind for it. I can sense Brendan, my narrator, standing to one side waiting to see if I follow through, this time, or wimp out, again. But I've made so many comments on so many other blogs about how I'm going to get it done...I'd almost be too embarrassed not to. And the fact is, I've let Brendan down too many times already; I have to man up and let it happen.

As I've mentioned before, I have an organic approach to my stories. First I need to know the seeds, as it were; and then the basic storyline...which would qualify as the soil in which to plant those seeds; and then I find anything I can to make it grow...fertilize it music or images or knowledge or a combination of them all. Then I let it flourish as I try to understand exactly what it is I've planted, and I rarely know exactly what sort of plant will come up -- potatoes with their beautiful flowers while the meat of them is hidden deep below; watermelons with their twisting vines and deep sweetness; a Pothus with its light-seeking leaves on vines that can stretch around a room and add brightness to it all; a cactus with its prickly needles jabbing at you even as you try to water it. In order for me to get to that point, my characters have to speak to me, trust me, be willing to lead me down the paths their stories want me to follow. They are the ones who determine if I have vines of beautiful grapes or fragrant Honeysuckle. And if I falter, I lose that trust and have to rebuild it...and that can be damn near next to impossible.

I've lost stories that way -- by failing to let them be what they were because I wanted to control their direction...tried to limit them...was too afraid to look into their shadows. But the biggest plus of having written HTRASG, PM and RIHC6 is how dark and vicious they turned out...and how honest to themselves they are...and how I'm still who I was before I began them. I'm proud of them, and each book bears my full name because I refuse to have any reticence in owning them...and have grown to where I'm glad I wrote them. People's opinions of me may have changed since they now think they see a new facet of me that makes them uncomfortable, but that's just because I no longer fit into that nice neat simple box so many had filed me into.

Of course, this could all just be my ego talking. I'm not so unaware that I can't see that possibility. But after spending so damn many years of my life lacking self-confidence or wallowing in self-deprecation, I'm entitled to be a self-aggrandizing twit for a while. got a problem with that? Take it up with Brendan.

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