The Subconscious Goes To Work

I have molasses. I have a peck of Staymans and Winesaps. I have a slew of pumpkin seeds, so I'm throwing them into everything. I am making humble, simple suppers, to sustain me on these cool, rainy, work-soaked days.

My favorite holiday is just around the corner, my staff is excited about it, and company comes in a few hours for supper and an overnight. I need to put sheets on Hannah's bed, clean the bathroom (finally), and start the vegetarian chili. I have committed grocery shopping and laundry.

This is how busy my novel feels right now. Suddenly, I have a new character. I have made a new (major) discovery about another character. I have unearthed a mystery as well. I am going back, layering in my new discoveries through previous chapters, planting hints and herrings and whiffs of surprise to come. I am changing this story's sheets and fluffling pillows and cleaning bathrooms. What's more, I am also considering a new tack. Ulp. Eez Too Much.

Who said (or wrote) that the process of writing a novel is basically a process of uncovering, unearthing what is already there in the subconscious? Was it I? Hahahaha.

I don't remember and can't find the quote right now -- would love to know, though, if someone has it handy.

I did find this quote, which I offer, apropos of nothing:

"Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders."

~Walter Bagehot~

Well! Which are you?

I am punchier than I thought.

I do love this by Alice Hoffman:

"When you start writing the magic comes when the characters seem to take on a life of their own and write the words for themselves."

This is where I am right now. Characters are popping up like puppets, shouting to be heard, declaring their intentions and making their relationships to one another -- the whole shebang is threatening to become unwieldy.

I am the puppeteer, and I cannot lose control of my story. There is so much rich material here... I am bloated with it. I need to step back and think about the many layers this novel has accumulated, and what I'm going to do about this -- which ones are more prominent? Which ones really matter? However... it's too much for me to wrestle in my conscious mind.

This is not the same as not knowing what happens next and being stymied -- which is where I was not long ago. This is having so many choices that are clamoring for attention and needing to listen to them all.

I finished chapter 14 on Wednesday, revised it yesterday, and decided that so much new is happening, I need to let my subconscious, my undermind, my writing partner, go to work for a day or two. I have my notebook by my side. I'm not scribbling much at all... the subconscious is at work, and when it is ready to burp, I won't be able to keep up with what pours out.

At least that's what I'm banking on -- and baking on. I will enjoy my overnight guests and my clean house. The photos today represent what's happening on the outside, in the conscious world I live in. What's happening inside -- well, that's a whole other story.

Back to work tomorrow after breakfast and a goodbye to friends.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know who said "Writing is basically uncovering or unearthing what is in the subconscious" but I've always been nurtured by something Stephen King wrote about in Bag of Bones (I think. I've gone back and rooted around in the novel and haven't found it. Woo. Woo.) The book is about writer's block (among other things, of course)and the passage talks about how this guy's subconscious is like a basement and there are these furniture mover guys carrying in stuff day after day. And one day it's ALL THERE -- just a cellar full of couches and dressers and easy chairs all draped with dust-protecting sheets. There's enough down there for his novel. And it's just waiting -- silent,complete -- for him to go carry it into the light. I used that image to comfort me all the while I was writing my first novel and my brain would say, "Who are you kidding? Who do you think you are?" And I would say, "Shut up brain. It's ALL THERE. And I can get it out. So, just shut up." When I read about your process -- how your characters surprise you, how the structure of your story shifts and changes and needs constant tending, I get back in touch with how much I love writing. How much I love my characters. And the passion gives me back my determination. So, thanks for sharing. Your generosity is a grand inspiration to me.



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