In case there’s anyone out there who cares, I missed last week’s installment of The Horseman, and I will probably miss this week’s. The reason has to do with how I do first drafts.
I keep hearing about writers who outline everything about a story ahead of time, who know what’s going to happen to each character, who understand where each beat and turn of the the story will fall. People for whom– allegedly– the writing of a story is merely a process of fleshing out the action.
That ain’t me.
My process is, quite simply, discovery of the story by writing it. Usually, I have a general idea of the story’s action, some of the characters, and almost always how the story ends, but writing to get to that ending is typically a long process, often involving many doubts, much second-guessing, detours, re-routes and reboots. Writer’s block is a familiar, if unwelcome, companion. This is a major reason Princess of Stars has not progressed; I have been essentially stuck at one point in the narrative for about a year, until recently unable to understand how Kathy gets to a particular, but essential, change in attitude. I may– may— have figured out in the last few days a way to finesse the problem. We’ll see.
This is, frankly, not a particularly rational process. I feel my way through an unlit cavern to discover the shape of my story, and wrong turns are common. I have at times gone five thousand, ten thousand, fifteen thousand words down a path, only to realize it’s not working– the action is wrong for the character, or it doesn’t make sense, or it negates something else I’ve already written, or intend to write and which feels essential. I have novels for which I have thrown away nearly as much as I have kept.
This is where I am at with The Horseman. In attempting to push on past Part Eight I realized that how I handled Parts Seven and Eight did not ring true. If I were doing this first draft properly, in private far from the tender eyes of readers, I could quietly eighty-six the failed passages and redirect the narrative. Since I am committing the sin of presenting raw story, the uglier aspects of the process are, of necessity, laid bare as well. Basically, Parts Seven and Eight must be retconned. I am working on the changes at this moment. But it will be a little while before I can re-post the parts and resume my forward progress. For the time-being, The Horseman is on hold.
The silver-lining on this, of course, is that out of all the problems facing the world at the moment, the delay of this story is just about Number 178,289,129,367. It’s good to keep things in perspective.