Yes, while I’m dealing with everything else in my life I’ve decided to start writing a new novel. It’s a time travel story and, I hope, a comedy, but as with my previous books — fiction and non-fiction — it seems to be going where it wants to go and my job is to keep up.
I’m about 14,000 words (or 40 plus pages) in but I know where the story is heading. It’s just that getting there is not as easy as it looks. My experience in writing is that I have a rough outline in my head that provides me the structure but as I look ahead I see nothing but fog. As I go along it seems to condense so that when I get to the end and look back I have a completed text. Until I reach a particular point, though, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.This week I was writing a scene involving a famous 19th century event and I realized I couldn’t just wing it. I’d actually have to do a bit of research. I needed to have my facts straight so I could provide some historical details. I might be planning a romp, but I couldn’t just fake it. To my surprise I discovered some information that I hadn’t known about before that ended up working right into my plot. Indeed the factual information made the story far more interesting that I had originally planned.
I don’t mean to compare myself to my friend Walter Hunt, a writer who does meticulous historical research (see, for example, A Song in Stone). I’m doing vaudeville. In at least some of his books he’s mixing historical reality with his science fiction. It was a reminder, though, that the first person to take a journey through a book and be surprised by its twists and turns is the author.
I think I know where it’s going. If it works and gets published you may find yourself amazed at how the story turns out. You won’t be the first, though. I was there before you.