Several months ago I wrote a short story titled Braddock Naddosh. The ending needed an overhaul, but the beginning and middle drew me in every time I read them. This was one of the first stories I'd written since I had my son almost three years ago. I loved not only the act of writing again, but the story itself. I loved the characters, the storyline, everything.
But Braddock Naddosh wasn't happy. As I thought about possible better endings, I soon realized this little tale wasn't so little. This short begged to be something more. I hesitated at first. I have outlines and character charts already drawn for the Keepers of Light trilogy, part of the redhead series of which Turning Red is the first. I spent about a year of nap times working on these preparations and was looking forward to delving into them.
But I'd already started writing Braddock Naddosh. I'd give it some space and time to grow, I decided. I'd let it become a novella. I had no plot outlines for it, no character charts, yet I knew exactly how it should continue. It unfolded effortlessly, and It's kept me intrigued constantly. The process amazes me every time I sink into the warm waters of my bathtub to write it. My previous two novels demanded rigorous outlines and thought before the writing could begin. I've always used free-write form for short stories, sometimes knowing ahead how one would end, sometimes not. But in the past when I'd try to free-write a novel, I'd hit a wall, pretty quickly, and need to break out the plotting devices and figure out a lot of things to continue.
Braddock Naddosh, now a novel by the name of Spellcast, has surprised and delighted. Who knows why this story grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Who knows why it demanded to be a novel when I wanted it to be a short story. And who knows whether this organic unfolding is because of the story itself or a new-found ability within me. Possibly I've been writing long enough now that I've earned spontaneity. Whatever the case, I'm not convinced I could do it again.
On the other hand, a lot about my life has changed in the past three years. Anyone who's had children knows you shed your old skin and grow new once the fist whipper snapper comes along. For instance, before I had Levi, I could use entire days to write. I could use evenings and weekends. And although I loved writing, I often had to force myself to the desk because hey, I could always do it later. Now, I have bath-time to write. That's about it. Yet I'm more productive as a writer than ever. I anxiously await writing time each day. I'm already super excited about it when I get there, and always use every second to the fullest.
So maybe this new style of writing is another development brought about from giving birth, part of my new skin. Or maybe it's just something that has to happen without thought or effort, things that hung me up in the past. I don't know. It's all sort of mystical, really.
I'm almost finished with the first draft of Spellcast, and I've already started my first edit of the beginning chapters. I'm amazed as I return to the beginning how new character depth and plot points deepen themselves. I could be wrong, but this manuscript feels just as developed and layered as if I'd spent months plotting and charting. I'm thoroughly enjoying this experience and this story. Still, I'm anxious to get back to the charts and outlines I made for the redhead series. As soon as I've finished my first edit of Spellcast, aside it goes to cool while I start my next WIP.