Cards on the table here, you all. I feel firmly there are few things more deadly than an author talking about her Process. What is there to say? You type, you weep around, you wish you were a florist, you eat some cookies, you type some more, and eventually maybe there is a book where before there was none. And although I am a person who is actually enthralled by tales of other people’s dreams, vacations and children, I have to admit that discussion of people’s writing process kind of flattens me. Please don’t be mad. I don’t even care about my own process. And for real, does it matter to you if I type on a laptop or desktop? Sit by a window or with my head under the covers? It does not. And it is right that you husband your interest thus. But I am forced to talk a little bit about my Process today, because it is a stupid part and I have a deadline coming up and I need help.
Here is the thing. Like so many of you, I sometimes have little ideas about a book and I write them down. This is swell if I am seated at the computer. I have a file for just this sort of thing. But it is terrible if I am Out and About because then I write the thoughts on horrible scraps of paper I find lying around. And even worse, I write them myself, in my own handwriting.
You see where this is going.
A burst of this thought-having happened to me about a month ago. I remember the moment because it was a Big Thought, and I was about to leave in my auto for a long journey, and I wrote the thought down, whispering fiercely to myself all the while: “Don’t forget to look at this! This is pivotal!” Of course I forgot about it entirely until a few days ago when I was heaping all the terrible thought scraps into a pile, preparatory to starting work on this book. I put the Pivotal One on top. Here is an image of the Pivotal Thought:
I feel like someone trying to decode Mayan hieroglyphs armed with only a National Geographic article. What does this say??? What? Here is my own best attempt at self-transcription:
“Take my fruit. Making the punt. She hung Lu it will be, me it culls feel. In Yarmore will mh. Why bother many it? Bring orken you know. Before it exerted her.”
Know this: the novel has no fruit in it, and while there is a river, no one punts on it and no one is named Lu. I never heard of Yarmore but would love to know an Orken, whatever that might be, so at least there’s that. And that last bit sounds like maybe I wanted my character to get in shape? Only I didn’t.
So help me help me help me. I will give a little prize to the first person to come up with a useful possibility. And it will not be a promise to straighten up the old handwriting, because I know me and it would be folly.
Unless you are Benedict Cumberbatch. Then I will do any old thing for you. Any. Old. Thing.