What do news stories of horrific instances of child abuse in Austria and other European countries have in common with the birth in captivity of a pygmy hippo? 

Somehow the combination has sparked the idea for a new teen novel that my muse has kept me awake over for the past two nights. I spent today on the planning and fleshing out the main characters, and tomorrow I'll knuckle down and write the synopsis. It's a lot darker than what I've been writing for the past few years, but at least it has an uplifting ending.

I always feel wired when I'm unravelling a new story for the first time. Hyper - like I've had too much caffeine and sugar, which is a strange feeling on top of the ultra-relaxed state caused by all the pregnancy hormones floating around in my system. I haven't had coffee since June, either, so this is an interesting substitute.

I don't know how freewriters can sit down and just start writing. For me the thrill comes with watching and listening to the story play out in my head over an intense period of a day or two. It's like I'm seeing double for a while - a movie being played on top of my real life; my attention split between the two. By the end of it, the whole thing is in there in its entirety, in my brain, except for a few transition details and the nuts and bolts of the dialogue. 

And then the subplots arrive, and wind their way into the story, altering slight details and improving motives and adding twists to the ending. I get to make notes at this point, getting the details down while my brain studies the whole. And then I can leave the story for months or years at a time, knowing that I can pick it up whenever the time is right and it will be waiting. As I read over the notes I've made I'll feel like I'm experiencing a story that is both fresh and new and an old friend at the same time. 

Comments (2)
I am very excited about your new project. To take some of the horrible things that have been in the news lately and turn them into something positive is wonderful. Best of luck with it all!
Posted 27 November 2008

Thank you Selma. None of what was in the news features in the story, though - it is just my feelings about the situations that have come out in the themes of the story. 
Posted 27 November 2008


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