Years ago, an old and dear friend once described my writing process thusly:
“Your head’s like a blender…ya just dump stuff in and see how high it blows when you leave the lid off.”
And after all of this time, I am still absolutely convinced that this is quite possibly one of the most astute observations ever made.
Because it’s true.
And this was evidenced, yet again, yesterday.
I had sat down to do some work on my current WIP. Now, my mental outlining for said WIP went roughly as follows:
“So there’s this horse and something about magic and more animals and more magic and then suddenly there are these two kids who like to scavenge but have apparently nothing to do with the animals whatsoever but BALLS IF I KNOW LET’S JUST KEEP WRITING AND MOVE ON.”
Needless to say, this is not the sort of summary one could ever pitch to a publisher. Really, it’s just not at all helpful in general.
But I kept going. Because I could tell that there was an actual story there, buried amidst all the strange and seemingly-unconnected snippets I was getting.
Because, well, blender.
Stephen King talks about it, in his book On Writing. (Which, if you’ve not yet read, do. Put this blog post away and go get yourself a copy of On Writing instead, and only come back here once it’s finished. It is far more important and I’m happy to wait, I promise.) About how writing is a bit like archeology, how writing is more an act of uncovering rather than creation.
Your words are your spade. You dig. Sometimes you see a tiny fleck of glitter in all of this dirt, and you dig there to try and unearth its roots. Sometimes you see nothing at all, and fling your words as they will just to see what you might find.
Sometimes you catch wind of a story, and go after it the way you’d suss out an ancient city now underground.
The point is, you’ve got the handle in your own hands, but no matter how careful with it you may be, you can’t always control what it will hit.
And me, I don’t mind getting dirty.
I like writing with a laughing, reckless sort of abandon, excavating pits and then diving into them headlong just to see what’s there. (Or throwing everything into a blender with the lid off and blades whirling, to get back to our first analogy.)
Yesterday, it paid off.
I finally found the story. Or the story found me, depending.
There was that moment, where suddenly, everything started to connect. Where everything started to make sense and is just a quietly contented yes.
Do I know where the story is headed from here? Nope. Haven’t the foggiest. I’d probably be pretty bored if I did.
But what I do know is that I have a story. It’s there. I’m not just digging blindly.
And I trust the story.
I don’t need anything more than that.
So let’s go, yeah?