Today I got more conversation under my belt than writing. I’m staying at the writer’s and artist’s retreat, The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan. At dinner I met a novellist who talked about the excitement of beginning a story without knowing exactly how the plot is going to unfold. “If you don’t know what’s going to happen next, your readers won’t.” she said.
It doesn’t feel exciting to me at all right now. It just feels scary. I’m inching forward, half the time trying to figure it all out in advance, and then telling myself to stay in the moment, to let go of having to know.
So, in the moment, the key character of my book, Missy, has arrived. I’ve spent much of my writing time today describing how she looks, trying to give as much information possible without overdoing it. She’s a transformed character, someone who has re-created herself. The trouble is, I’m not sure exactly why she’s gone to the trouble of such painstaking re-creation. In my mind, she kind of looks like Sammy Jo Carrington, a character from the 1980s soap, Dynasty. Not that her personality is bitchy like Sammy Jo’s, but there’s something about the eyes, a mischevious, bold quality that the actress Heather Locklear brought to the role.
I do feel a bit excited about the character, and how she will develop and infiltrate my main characters’ lives, even if I don’t exactly know how it will play out at this moment. I’m trying to trust in the process, but tomorrow I’m going to spend the day doing a little mapping. It’s okay to strike a balance between knowing and not knowing, I think.