Anatomy of a First Draft: The Process Begins (or Began)

February 10th, 2016

I can never start at the beginning. If you ask how I come to write a book, I’ll can never start from absolute zero. At any given point at any given day, salient thoughts may swirl around and eventually lead to character or plot development or some sort of mood that paves the way for a new book, but I pay them little direct attention.


On a day like today when I’ve decided to get serious, no thought is safe from the pen. Birds who cross my sightlines? Fair game. Squirrels, signs, sunhats? You bet. So, too, are overheard conversations, schoolyard soccer games, road rage, road kindness, cashier attitudes, tiny tots, towering teens and that kid who was tiptoeing across the blacktop.

On a day like today, one I’ve targeted to begin Gollywhopper 3, I am not starting from zero. Over the course of the summer, even before that, even when I was writing Gollywhopper 2 (and I could say the same even if I was writing a totally unrelated book), my thoughts jumped ahead to possibilities. I may have paid those thoughts little direct attention, but they had a way of weaseling into my memory banks. And today’s the day I start to coax them out.

Today, I will sit with pens and paper and brainstorm ideas related to those who will populate my book, the places they’ll see, and the things I’ll have them do. I’ll get up, I’ll pace and ponder some more. I’ll make dinner and think. I’ll watch TV and mine it for outside inspiration.

I won’t write. I may jot down a line I love, but I won’t open a manuscript file. Not yet.

There will come a point – days, weeks? – when it will be time. It may be more exciting to follow me then as the word count begins, builds, hits a frenzied pace. But if you want to come along for the full ride, I can’t promise much except an insider’s look. And maybe a line or two – maybe even a hint of what’s to come – once I sink deeper into this process.

P.S. Picture above? It’s what my papers might begin to look like in a few days.

P.P.S. The picture is intentionally blurry due to potential spoiler content of potential new book.

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