I find what bogs me down more than anything when writing a novel are questions as, ‘What does the land of fairy look like?’ or ‘Who is the guardian to the underworld?’. Not the nuts and bolts, but rather the big sweeping vision parts. Because then I have to sit down and sort through all the previous versions I have read, check my own inclinations against them in order to make sure I’m not wholesale ripping somebody off, and then settle on one idea that I’ll run with.
Often though, I don’t have a clear predilection; rather I’ll simply not be sure. What should the land of fairy look like? Traditional, as in a subterranean woodland, replete with path one must not stray off of, fruit trees bearing perilous fruit and dangerous denizens seeking to beguile the unwary? Or should it be integrated with out own world, hidden spots of wonder found by walking along certain abandoned subway lines or by plumbing once sealed off basements beneath ancient tenement buildings? Or should it be a shifting dreamworld, a phantasmagoria of impressions and half-visions, akin more to a peyote trip then an actual physical journey? And on it goes, with me frowning and rubbing my chin and trying to decide what I want to do.
Because usually I’m not happy to simply take up a previously used version and insert it into my story. There’s a pernicious desire to be original running through me, which results in my squinting at things and trying to see something new; what does my fairy world look like? How can I take such an ancient idea and reinvent it in mine own image?
That’s just one example. Sometimes you’re lucky and it comes to you even as you write it, pouring down the length of your arm and into your fingers like molten gold, so that you just write as fast as you can before it runs out. Other times? Not so much. But that’s all right. It’s part of the process. The trick is to let things percolate, to let them sit and watch them out of the corner of your eye. If you push too hard you’ll only make it worse. So I’ve been going out for bike rides, watching good movies, reading thought provoking books. And hoping that things will coalesce soon, so that I can get back to this bizarre business called ‘writing’.