Pantsing It

Pantsing It

Normally, I at least create a minimal outline, or have a general idea of the beginning, middle, and end of a story. I’ll often have key points in mind along the way, and scribble some notes here and there to keep me moving in the right direction.

This time, though, the book has just begun to write me. As many of mine do, it started with a dream. It was not a happy dream at all, and it kept me on edge and disturbed for several days. It appeared that it was going to haunt me unless I did something about it.

So, I set aside all other projects, and started to write. Beginning with the proverbial “Once Upon a Time,” I’ll just keep going until I hit the “Happily Ever After.” Or, in this case, we may wind up with an “Unhappily,” as so far things aren’t going well for my protagonist, and I can’t for the life of me see a way out of that predicament.

COVID-19 has caused all sorts of changes. There are the obvious changes in society, with people staying apart in their homes, and avoiding contact with one another. The economic changes, with many millions now on unemployment and seeking other forms of financial help, are daunting. There are many emotional changes, too. People are depressed, frightened, angry, and desperate. I hear of many creators—writers, artists, programmers, designers—who are in a state of limbo. I appear to have been affected in the reverse. I’ve been writing more, and more obsessively, in the last few weeks than I have in years. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I have no idea.

Just as I have no idea if this book will turn out even remotely acceptable. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. It’s being written because I have to write it. It is like a purge, getting the bottled up energy out of my system, while I let the story have its way. Will I finish it? Will it take me to a place where it shows me a conclusion? Will I get halfway through, and find that it has abandoned me along a roadside somewhere, with no way to continue the journey?

I guess I’ll find out.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

–J.R.R Tolkien, “The Fellowship Of The Ring”

Photo by Anton Atanasov on

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