The other day I was doing an interview with artist Ray Campeau. I always like to watch artists work and I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if he painted while we talked. He took out a pad and began to sketch. Then he went for his watercolors and was instantly lost in the vision.
Today I called him and he told me he’d finished the painting and he really liked it, although when he started it he admitted that he was just showing me how he worked and didn’t expect to keep the piece, let alone complete it.
That’s what happens when you switch on the faucet of your creativity. You don’t expect everything to be a masterpiece but there comes a point when you can depend on it to be there for you.
What’s happening here is a kind of conditioning. Sit down to work and before you know you’re working.
Deadlines are like faucets for me. I sit down, turn on my computer and go. Maybe it won’t be a masterpiece but if I give myself the freedom to write whatever I need to write, most of the time the result is pretty good.
Okay. I sent my novel to my agent. Now what?
Even as I worked on my revision, inklings for my next book started to pop up. When that happens I try to jot down as much as I can on a piece of paper and tuck it away. So far I have a few measly sentences and some very big ideas.
This is my incubation time. The settling back and letting it gel time. This is the time when I start to think about the main character. What does she sound like. Where does she live. What is she dealing with. And with each bit of color she starts to fill in.Soon I will hear her begin to whisper to me. But not yet.
I don’t have enough to open a new document and start CHAPTER ONE. I know it’s not ready. I’ve tried starting manuscripts when I wasn’t ready and it’s never a good thing.
I know what I want think about in this book. I know the issues I want to tackle.But I still need to get to a point where the liquid of my ideas starts to thicken into pudding. Right now it’s just starting to simmer.
But I also know the point is growing near. I can feel it … an electric closeness. A static touch.
A while ago I was doing a yoga class and at the end of it when we all lay there in the death pose I felt lifted. I wasn’t asleep but I could see colored sprinkles falling on top of me. A rain of loveliness. A beautiful bliss. And it reminded me of this very moment. The “down” time between novels when I wait for the inspiration to fall on me. And I know it will.
For now I’ll settle for the tiny bits of ideas and sketches of characters, the kind of setting I want to write about and the antagonist I want to think about.
One thing I know for sure, it’s all part of the process.
- “Idea” notes from my last novel before I started writing.