Backstory

I’m fairly certain that there’s nothing more fun than writing. I don’t necessarily mean putting a pen to paper, or typing away chapter after chapter on the computer. I mean the whole process of writing. Creating a crazy concept in the back of your mind, thinking about it and developing the nugget as you fall asleep, hoping your dreams will lead you into a narrative, and waking up excited to jot it all down again before it slips from you like mist from your ears.

I’ve been working on my story a lot recently, though not so much to keep Kenn from making fun of me. I spent most of the plane ride from Salt Lake City jotting down note after note about my characters. It was deeply invigorating. A boy across the aisle kept trying to peek at what I was writing. The whole experience put a smile on my face.

Best of all, none of it seems like a waste of time. There were days not long ago when I would spend all my energy writing only to see the results and toss them away. Looking back I can probably blame those days on my own impatience; taking up the pen when I should have continued working on the structure. Still, I think I need both types of writing to survive the creative process. It’s a truly amazing feeling when I write so much and feel the story developing and flushing out, but I don’t think I’d have the will power to stick with it unless I occasionally write from the hip, even knowing that the product will amount to less than the effort.

Lately my focus has been on completing the backstory of my book. With the first draft of the outline complete it’s been a lot easier than I expected. I let my mind and pen wander across the pages of a moleskine for a few hours and it’s like the characters write themselves. Before my plane ride, the father of my main character was a shell whose only purpose in the plot was to die. Now he has a rich history that entwines not only with the core characters, but also manages to influence how I handle trade and business in the area, how I treat foreign immigrants, and what roles are defined for the class system in the southern province of a major country. It’s not so much that I wrote his story, it’s that a gray blob of plot became vibrant and alive.

I think that’s the way it must be for authors who write as they go. The discovery of what happens next and how it relates to what has come before must feel as exciting and motivating as filling in my outline. I used to wish I could write that way, but perhaps planning and outlining isn’t so devoid of the vigor itself.

I should get back to it now. I just wanted to share some of the excitement I was feeling while it was still fresh.