Nights like this I wish I had nothing but time to write. I can feel myself moving closer, not necessarily to any particular scene or decisions about structure, but closer to my Self. Tonight I could hear the words before I typed them. Tonight I felt connected and my fingers moved on their own, paced perfectly with what I was hearing. I have craved this sort of engagement for so long that it is hard to stop tonight. It is hard to stop because I fear that I won’t be able to reengage tomorrow, or that I won’t hear the words as I have been hearing them tonight.
I struggle most with writing when I don’t hear that voice, that narrator who sits just behind me and whispers the story into my ear. I am thankful for that voice, and I am thankful for nights like this when I can write without a great deal of struggle, and without over-analyzing my own process.
My process is erratic and unpredictable. I write as it comes. I know that this project will be quite large, and I am only now settling into the notion that it will be a long time before even the first draft is finished. I have no timeline, and I am learning to be okay with that.
Patience as process.
I am writing from the beginning now. That is, if the story were unfolded, smoothed out on a table and laid out chronologically, I am writing from the first night, the first moment that we see Mattie. Others have told me to jump in, to write out scenes about one thing or another. Tonight, for example, R assigned me the task of writing a scene in which Dustin gets his immunizations in a mobile clinic. But it is hard to write about things that happen far into the future. The Mattie I wrote about tonight knows nothing of migrant life or mobile clinics or children. At this point, she hasn’t yet met Joe.
I learned a lot about Mattie tonight. I know much more about her than I got onto the page and I feel like I can sustain her character throughout the next few scenes, until she meets Joe.
I only wish that I didn’t have to sleep. I wish I didn’t have to work every day, that I could stay up all night and write. I wish I could do what I want, go wherever I want to go, at my own pace. In a car, windows down, a warm breeze. Mattie and Joe in the front seat.