Each writer begins a new novel differently, and sometimes each project is different. No two stories of mine have taken the same path. There is one theme that rings true: at some point my head is buried in a baby name book.
I’ve owned baby name books since before I was a mother. And naming humans, pets, or characters alike: I hate the process. I’m an indecisive person. I hem and haw. I flip back and forth. To come up with a name, the right name, is quite a challenge. I was in my third trimester before my son was named, and my husband (also a writer, I might add) created a venn diagram. (My son’s name ended up as #2 on both of our lists, out of the three names that landed in the center of the diagram.)
Here is a look at the beginning process of my latest novel:
Allow me to describe the scene:
Laptop on lap desk on my bed: I’ve been warned against writing in bed by my physical therapist. I even managed to relocate to the dining room for a few days. But a writer must be where the creative juices flow, and that happens to be the worst place possible for me.
Two baby books: the first is my oldest and most reliable baby name book. The first one I bought, where I search for most of my names. The second is filled with more quirky names. I acquired the second in a box of hand-me-downs while pregnant. Score! And since I’ve named the male in this latest novel “Lake,” this quirky name book came in handy.
Pen and paper: normally I stay away from handwriting my novels. I type very fast, faster than I can think, and am very comfortable on a qwerty keyboard. So paper and pen slows me down. Further more, I make ample use out of my delete backspace key, so writing with a pen is just plain frustrating. Nevertheless, this particular paper and pen came in rather handy, when my muse came up with a brilliant story idea…
While I was in the shower.
I wrote the page on view while dripping into a towel, hand held up to keep my husband quiet, while I jotted down the words before my poor memory threw them away.
And might I add, I’m a bit peeved at my muse for sending me yet another idea. I’m supposed to be editing Choice and Consequence. She wants to write the new story. I’m hoping I can juggle both.
The cords: nothing to do with writing, this was me transferring all vacation gems to my laptop. The cord is for my camera. I uploaded photos and transferred the handwritten stories in one night. Multitasking!
Another little insight into my life: this is what happened to my books after I had finished researching character names:
This is Oreo, my oldest cat. Her name was Edwina when we adopted her from the shelter (Think “Special Ed” if you are a Stephen Lynch fan), I toyed with Chessy as a mark on her leg looks like a checkered board. In the end an on-line friend came up with Oreo and it stuck. I didn’t worry about her responding to the name, as this is my deaf cat. I knew right away her sign name would be two fingers across the chin. English name = hard. ASL name = surprisingly easier.
And she sits on everything a millimeter higher than the ground. Books, laptop, paper, you name it, she’s on it. When my laptop is on my lap she goes especially crazy and has been known to sit on my keyboard, while I’m using it.
So there you have it, a glimpse into the drafting stages of a new novel. Once completed this will mark four completed drafts waiting to be edited (assuming Choice and Consequence isn’t finished first), and two completed novels. A total of six projects with a beginning, middle, and end. And to think, a year and a half ago I only had one novel at a completed draft stage.
My muse might need a vacation of her own.