Every writer has her own way of writing a novel. One will plot out the story in meticulous detail before she writes the first word. Another starts by typing CHAPTER 1, then dives in and lets the words flow.
I envy them both.
When I start a new story, I feel like I've been dropped into the middle of a thick jungle with no compass, no clue where I am or how to get out. All I have is a small machete to hack my way through. The story is there all around me--the characters, the conflicts. I can feel them and I catch glimpses of them peeking through the growth. But when I first start, they're not clear. I know there's a strong logical path somewhere, too, but I can't see that clearly, either. All I can do is start swinging my blade and hope that things become clear sooner rather than later.
I'm deep in that jungle at the moment with book 7 of my Feral Warriors series. I won't tell you who this book is about (I'm saving that announcement for my personal blog on Dec. 1st). But I will tell you that the two main characters have revealed themselves to me pretty thoroughly, though I'm sure I'll continue to learn more about them as we travel the story together. But the story's path is another matter. I climbed one of the thicker trees to get a good view and I'm pretty sure I glimpsed it, way up ahead. It's a lovely path--wide and clear--at least it appears that way from here. It may look entirely different once I get there.
And that's the problem at the moment. How do I get there? I'm surrounded by dense, swampy jungle on all sides. As I pace, swinging my machete, and worrying that I won't find a way through, I remind myself over and over that this happens every time. Every story looks impenetrable at first. And I've ultimately conquered every one. More than a dozen of them, now.
I'll keep swinging, keep sweating it out. But the muse will come through, as she always does, and ultimately, together, we'll conquer this one, too.