There’s actually a there there

I love this part of the writing process.

I’m working on a very rough draft–what I’ve heard others call a 0th draft, which it really is. I’ve put all these pieces on the table, having no idea how they’d come together, but uneasily hoping they would somehow.

Then I slogged, and slogged, while the pieces all just hung around the edges of the story, looking useless. A bell, a key, aa broken friendship, a shard of glass, a spy, a prince, a mouse, a friendship bracelet from the grass of a sacred grove–surely these things couldn’t be part of one story. Surely most of them had no purpose at all.

I despaired: the story was going nowhere, never would go anywhere, etc., etc. Knowing I’ve been here with every book I’ve written was no comfort; surely, this was the book where my craft would fail, where I’d find no story and have wasted a year.

And then, about a week ago, the plot showed up. Not the next event–it’s not hard to wing a next event–but the place all the events were heading. The place where the arc of the story wants to somehow land.

And it needs all those things I’ve put in place. Someone who didn’t know better might think I’d put them there on purpose. That I’d planned to use them all along. But no, I placed them there with nothing but blind faith that I’d find a way to use them, somehow.

I wonder if one day I’ll trust my process enough to just know this will happen, and not fret. Of course, then I worry that that will be the moment my process fails after all. Which means I’m in no danger of stopping fretting anytime soon.

I still have a ton of work–I’m probably only a third or maybe a quarter of the way done with the actual work of the book, and I’m not even done with that 0th draft yet.

But at least now I know that that work is to a purpose. I know that there’s a story here, and not just an interesting idea.

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