OK, I am now back at work on my creepy novel set in the woods in Washington. And that's all I'm saying, because, actually, the plot is pretty good. I have surprised myself.
In the past I would start writing the style along with the plot, and see where I ended up. This time I had a strange tale to tell, combining two legends, one local and the other from far away. I wrote the basic story, with no finesse at all, and it was about 250 pages. I revised it and it grew to 280. Now it's bursting its seams at 300 pages and may well turn out to be two separate yet interconnected novels.
The third draft has been so much more fun than the first and second! Now it's all about filling things out, letting characters speak for themselves in their own voices, sketching in more details of the environment. Maybe I am crazy-crazy, but I love this, writing in a world that becomes more textured and real each time I visit.
There is a particular joy to working in solitude. I had almost forgotten what it was like. I had collaborated on so many theater projects, and ended up grinding away at scripts that excited the actors who read them for me, but which would never have a life on stage. The sense of futility overwhelmed me, and it took a couple of years to shake that and recover the joy of writing.
Doesn't sound like much of a struggle. But if you've identified yourself and lived the life of a writer since the age of nine, well, you have to find ways to feed the engine. Stopping is not an option. I wrote before I could read, making swirls and loops on line after line of notebook pages. Something in my brain wants to write, so I do this. And if theater is not for me, so be it. I have returned to my roots, writing short stories and a novel, and it feels great.