The toughest part about writing a novel, for me, is figuring it out, that is, developing the idea, and usually I’ll write a single scene. I’ll see and hear that scene before I outline, if I outline, before I do any research, before I do anything at all. But after that first scribbling, I’ve got to give meaning to the image or the scene or the bare idea that is the seed of a novel, and usually a number of other scenes will pop up, disconnected or vaguely connected, but mostly none of it gets me anywhere until that seed has grown roots, branches, leaves, and flowers.
From those two images have come a cornucopia of story, story notes, an incomplete exploratory draft, and much wrestling with angels. Those two paintings made me think about sociocultural silences.
I go up and down with the book. It’s the red block in the puzzle game “Unblock Me.” Love that game (second to Bejeweled), play it obsessively, and sometimes I solve the puzzle and free the red block within 18 moves–once I solved it in 14 moves–but most of the time it takes me many moves to free that red block and many of those moves are false starts and wrong ways. That’s the case with A Lamentation of Swans. It’s the red block and all the unanswered, unfigured out stuff is barricading my red block, my story, and all the ups and downs are my many moves to answer the stuff and free the story.
I’m fascinated by my premise so I keep poking at it, keep moving stuff around, keep inching it forward, and keep getting blocked. It’s comical; it’s ridiculous; it’s maddening. But I’m going to free that red block.