Monday, March 03, 2008

Jewel crafting

There are times when a story has to be beaten bloody before you can drag it out into the light. When the words are so reluctant to come forth that you wonder if they perhaps have a better paying day job and that explains why they are so unwilling to show themselves and get down to some graft for you.

And then there are the times when you seem blessed, when the world helps so much with the writing that the cynic who lodges within suspects a set-up and advises you to tread carefully unless the Earth decides that the price of such benevolence is your body and opens up wide to swallow you whole.

I'm having such a time with the story I'm writing right now. Irrational fears about the momentum of the story stop me saying too much about the tale but it is set in New York around Wall Street. I needed some guidance on street names so duly turned to Google maps to find out where a particular subway entrance debouched commuters. And there it was on the map, around the corner from the stairs, a street named The Canyon of Heroes - a perfect fit for the story. So perfect in fact that if it is ever published lots of people will suspect I've made it up. And then there were lots of other parts, names, people and objects that fell into place too. Whether the finished story is better for it remains to be seen.

I've done enough of this to know when the writing is easier because of all the planning that has been done and this story I have planned endlessly - my pack of notes for it is verging on the Brandoesque. But that only explains part of how, or why, it is working. At times it feels like there are other forces at work that you are not so much writing a story as uncovering a hidden history that has always existed, unseen, until someone trips over it and looks back to see what caught their toe and sent them sprawling. And then, in the dust, they discover a gem. Only time will tell whether that turns out to be a diamond or glass.

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