Pat is the July, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and she has written a guest post on how a book percolates and is eventually formed on the written page call Dream Horses/Dream Stories. Do you ever write down your dreams or envision a story? I know I do and getting it correctly on paper is difficult. Read on to find out more from Pat.
Dream Horses/Dream Stories
For me, a book starts with a small, foggy notion. A character maybe, or a situation or a setting. I sit very still and watch. I coax the notion to draw nearer. I sketch what I see. I color. I write bits of poems, snippets of dialogue. I go on long walks, inviting the notion to float near me. It grows and begins to take form, to have voice. It surrounds me. Eventually I begin to see movement in the mist. Smells drift in. I hear music. I feel the characters’ breath on the back of my neck. The essence of the story reveals itself to me.
Suddenly, the idea is huge and it’s beautiful. Not just beautiful. It’s profound and panoramic, it’s breathtaking and world-changing. It is the best story ever in the world. I’m in love with the characters. The story breaks my heart and fills me with hope and magic and visions for peace, compassion, understanding, beauty and courage.
Then, I begin to write the first draft. The work is difficult. It’s tedious. And more than anything, it is disappointing.
The process reminds me of Ken McLaughlin in Mary O’Hara’s 1941 novel My Friend Flicka. Ken was a daydreamer who lived on a ranch in Wyoming. More than anything, he wanted a colt. Thousands of mystical dream-colts gamboled through his head.
Then, his father told him that from all of the colts on the ranch, he could choose one of his very own. He chose Flicka and he loved her – but he also experienced the loss of all of those dream colts. From the moment he chose, he was left with a singular flesh-and-blood reality.
That’s what happens when I begin to pin my beautiful new story down into words. My magnificent dream is slowly whittled down to the vocabulary and sentence structure and plot and craft. At best, I can capture only a shadow of the story in my head. The colors are nowhere near as bright. The music is muted.
I work hard at craft, trying to use the limited tools of written language to the very best of my ability. The first draft is always a huge disappointment, but all is not lost yet – I have hopes that drafts two, three, and four will bring in more of that magic. But at some point, I realize that the entire vision is beyond me. I will have to settle for paper-and-ink reality. Friends and critique partners, editor and agent help me fine-tune, but it’s sad to me, that they can’t see the story in my head. They can only see what I manage to put on paper.
When the book is finally done, I love it as Ken loves his horse. But those dream colts? They slip into the distant mist like Ken’s, lost to me forever. Until I start the next book.
To win a copy of Pat's book BlueFish and an ARC of her newest book Lizard Radio, please enter here: BlueFish and Lizard Radio Giveaway