Monday, August 23, 2010

What Now...

I don't know what to write about. Not here on the blog--I can always pull something out here. But for my next big project? There are too many ideas floating around, characters demanding that I take them out for coffee and get to know them better. I'm almost sure I want to return to the eighteenth century--the 1940s were fun, but my heart lies in 1780. But what story? Which characters? There's the dark-haired coquette with the quick wit and the perseverance to take over the world--or at least the London social scene. There's the runaway slave who hides in plain sight and becomes a Marine. There's the British officer with perfectly turned arrogance who can't make his wife love him.

Too many ideas. Clearly, not enough focus.

I had intended to return to a beloved character abandoned in an earlier project, but an image--a single image as always spurs my ideas--came to me this weekend as we were tearing down camp. I saw an officer's wife sitting in her husband's comfortably furnished campaign headquarters, the tent flap tied open to provide a bit of a breeze. I saw her pull a pin from her thick hair and the long dark mess of curls come tumbling down. I saw her lay the pin down and sigh. And I saw the enlisted man who was watching her:

I may be imagining it, but we've been different since she's been here. We stand up straighter. We don't pick our teeth after rations and we don't swear like we used to. Perhaps I imagine that we are all different but only I have changed. That I do know--she has changed me.

So now I'm torn--not sure which project to pursue. I'm going to sit on it a little while longer, I think, see who stalks me more aggresively.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue? Not necessarily a writing question, of course, though you're welcome to share your process there! Do you tend to have several projects going on at once? Or do you pick one and stick with it to the end, sort of a serial monogamist when it comes to projects?


Lua said...

I know this feeling Rowenna… When I finished my fist manuscript (first draft that is) I was completely lost, I had no idea what to write about… I had many ideas but none of them were appealing enough for the long run, none of them were attracting me like my first novel did. But it’s just a phase, it goes away and when it’s time to start working again you’ll know which characters to listen to and which project to focus on. Good luck! :)

Rowenna said...

I know, it's like looking at the list of classes for a semester and trying to decide which to pick--but I'm so interested by all of them! I think I mostly just have to pick--and remind myself that I have many years to return to the projects I don't do right now :)

mesmered said...

I love the way inspiration strikes. I just made a comment on my own blog. I've been writing a novel which is shelved because I began writing a fan fict. But last night, I began researching the crusades, Aquitaine, abbeys, timelines and I realised the fan-fict title was maybe a bit baseless, that the story of tow people in the middle ages was actually taking over. All the more marked when I noticed I had taken a pen to paper and was drawing a plot arc. A sure sign that things are taking off in a serious sense.
So as you say, what now? The WIP (novel) or the fan-fict transfer to novel?
I think it's wonderful that little gems of insopiration light up in our minds from the oddest things!

sharmon said...

All your characters sound unique and so interesting, no wonder you're having a tough time! I totally got off base last week and wrote a 17-page handwritten short story--right in the middle of my novel edit!! That was so not planned. But the short story idea didn't woo, or lure, it attacked full-on and I had to write it. I love when writing takes over, but sure can throw a wrench in my plans.

Rowenna said...

Mesmered--sounds like a captivating idea--the Crusades are so rich in material for an intrepid researcher/writer. Hope inspiration continues to surprise you :)

Sharmon--thank you, I'll pass that along to my characters :) Your story sounds like a fantastic distraction! Well worth the diversion from your main project, I think.