A Certain Lack of Focus

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I just reached page 200 in my novel! I think I'm finally getting close to being finished. Right now I'm working on the climactic scene, which is more because I'm skipping around than because I'm actually that near the end. I expect the finished book will be about 250, maybe a little longer. There are a few scenes I'm putting off writing, either because they're difficult for me (the beginning is giving me fits) or because they're such a big deal I'm still intimidated by them. As I close in on them it will get easier, at least that's how it's been working so far.

GaleWriting a novel is a new experience. I chose to do a novel for my MFA thesis because I was afraid that if I didn't write one now I'd never write one. This particular story has been forming in my head for about seven years. I was feeling depressed, chatting with my friend Adam and trying to explain the kind of isolation I was experiencing. Finally I told him, "it's like being a changeling," and from there the story exploded.

It's pretty much unrecognizable now from the comic book concept I came up with as an undergrad. Gale is the main character of this book, part 1 of 4, and she didn't even exist in the initial conception. When I did invent her, I intended her to be a "bad guy" a nemesis for my main character, but instead she's turned into a full and tragic character, in some ways even more engaging than my initial protagonist, Breeze. Breeze will take over in book two.

One of the most alarming things about novel writing is how unpredictable it is. I'm used to short stories, 14-17 pages long, where I usually know everything that happens before I write it. With this novel, Lost Child of Summer, I had a vague outline in my head, but while the start and finished stayed at roughly the same spot, the middle wiggled around like the body of a snake. I know it sounds cliche, but it's almost magic to see how the characters take on a life of their own and the story twists in unexpected ways. It makes me feel a little powerless to realize that I'm not actually in control of my own story. With about a fifth of the book to go, I'm still not entirely certain about what's going to happen in certain parts. How weird.

Anyway, getting closer. Wish me luck. Here are some sketches I did way back when I first came up with the story. They don't really fit any more. Click on the images for a large version.

Page 1: "In more superstitious times it was believed that a spirit might come and steal an unguarded child." "The child would be replaced with the spirit's own unnatural babe. Candels, bells and other charms were often used to protect against this." "But sometimes the charms failed..." "And a human baby was lost." "And sometimes..." "No one noticed."changelingPage 2: "Naptime age 1 1/2" "2nd birthday party" "Zoo visit age 3 1/2" "Family Camping Trip, age 5" "Basketball game 1st grade"changelingPage 3: "Sheesh Mom, don't you have any normal pictures of me when I was little?" "Well... those are normal. For you." "Right."changeling

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