Preparing to Unfold
Next Monday I’ll board a plane to attend a week-long writer’s retreat. This week has been one of preparation. I’m working to help Patch finish his book report early so that Howard is not stuck with a last minute homework scramble. We’re practicing with Gleek and Patch so that they know how to do bedtime on their own. We’re helping Link and Kiki meet deadlines ahead of time. I’m doing laundry, cleaning house, and stocking the larder. At the same time I’m letting some of these tasks be incomplete, because one of the points of this trip is for me to learn that Howard and the kids do not always require my help, and for them to learn how to step up and help themselves. This learning is necessary since I do things for my family without even thinking about it. I am always performing small invisible tasks which make life go more smoothly, even when I should let the kids struggle with doing these things for themselves. I’m working on it, but truly the only way to convince myself that disaster will not result if I stop doing is for me to step away completely and see that disaster does not occur.
The other reason for the trip is writing. I am quite curious to see what happens when I fold away all the parent thoughts, house care thoughts, and business thoughts simultaneously. What will emerge in the space thus created? I’m hopeful that it will be lovely words and stories. I realized today that I’ve been feeling the same reluctance about writing fiction that I do when contemplating starting a new book or TV show. I know that the story is going to take up residence in my brain and use space until it is complete. I have so many ongoing projects that it is hard to want to sign up for another one. Yet I’m going to. During this retreat I’m going to unfold four writing projects which have been waiting for me.
1. The Strength of Wild Horses. This is the follow up picture book to Hold on to Your Horses. I’m going to attempt to focus on this one first because I want to emerge from the retreat with a completed text.
2. My middle grade fantasy book about a video game playing Tomte (think house elf or brownie) who befriends a young boy. I’ve got the first bit of the book written, but it needs to be restructured and expanded.
3. A magical realism book for which I only have fragments and pieces. I know where it is set, I have a couple of characters with attached emotional issues. The book wants to have themes of dealing with mental illnesses and the fairy tale Tam Lin will be referenced in relation to those. This one feels important, but I really need to collect more pieces before true drafting can begin.
4. Somewhere Before the Blinding Light. This is a short story/novelette/novella which I’ve already drafted once, but needs significant revision. I want to set it on a colony world which was primarily settled by people from India. This means that I need to do some research into Indian history and culture in order to get the social structures right. The story deals with themes of memory and choice because there is a technology which allows selective memory erasure.
Those are the projects I intend to work on. It is entirely possible that some other project will materialize and demand attention instead. This is the danger of turning over so much brain space to my writer self. I am certain that I will also end up with ideas for essays and blog entries, some of which will be completed and posted as the week progresses. Next week is definitely going to be interesting.
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