As I read over the last draft to see what I have to work with, I’m amazed at how timid I am, afraid to describe fully, show these people in action. The draft is tight, tight with my fears. And now, in the polish, I have to unfurl it, make it blossom, make these worlds of long ago that I find so interesting, alluring for the readers. Come into my parlor, my spider has to say to the fly. And the fly has to go because it cannot help itself.But how to I get there from this tight, frightened draft? Strap on my high heels and start dancing. Dare to be bad so I can get to good. That’s the only wisdom I’ve learned from writing three novels. The anxiety isn’t going away. I need to write a whole draft, no matter how dreadful it is, not get stopped on reworking good scenes because I feel safe and the writing sings. I can make it better because when I’m through with a draft, I know the people and I know the plot a little more fully. But I can only learn such things through that process of the draft with all its mess, meandering paths, wrong turns, undeveloped characters.
I didn’t think Louis XIV would be the main character in this novel, and he is. That surprises me. It pleases me, too, because it’s hard to let go of history, what the biographies say, to create a character. That’s why real people who lived in the time periods I write about have always been side characters before.
But Louis was the headline of the 1600s. Why would he allow anything different now? The French court is a maze of intrigue and families. It’s been work to sort it out. But now I know the cliques, the twists of friendships. I’m on the polish, and yet I encounter places, as I did today, where I have to write new scenes. Ah, the terror of a new scene. Will it work? What do I know anyway? What makes me think I’m a writer, much less a good one?
Same old fears. Same old hip hop three novels down. You be bad. Every day, there it is. One just has to keep on typing and stay away from the scotch.