When I’m in the flow of my writing, I feel like a magnet drawn to exactly what I need – a dictionary word, a Netflix episode, a twitter post, a conversation with a friend, anything. Connected to anything that will serve my story.
I’m not even consciously seeking ideas – they come to me.
Does this happen all the time? Absolutely not!
But when it does happen, it’s magic.
Last month, I deleted 5,000 words of my 25,000 word middle-grade verse novel, pulling out chunks of text – sometimes a line, sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a few pages. I had found an inconsistent element in my novel and drastic work was needed.
I knew I had to cut it out – and I’d known it for a while. I had tried to smooth it over, hide it with lyrical words, an exciting scene or two, a few magician’s tricks. Didn’t work.
I needed something else to fill the gaps – a little bit more than painter’s spackle. It had to look flawless, not tacked on.
I thought about my grade six protagonist, I thought about my grade six son. Nope, nothing.
One night, I made a quick leap from my desk to the kitchen to cook dinner in a hurry. Dinner never needs to be cooked early during lockdown – none of us are going anywhere. But my grade six son had an online talk with parental involvement on sex education.
I had left cooking too late – we ended up, the whole family, eating in silence, a laptop sitting on the kitchen bench, camera off, microphone off while my grade six son cringed as the educator talked about body parts and conception. His older siblings grinned, nudged him, made faces.
Body parts. Conception.
I could feel it on my skin. My grade six protagonist who has started her final year of primary school in a new school, now has to sit through sex education classes in her second week – with kids she doesn’t even know.
A leap from the kitchen after dinner back to my desk.
My words were enough not only to fill the gaps but hopefully make them so seamless that readers will never ever know they weren’t there originally.
A late dinner, a late idea. Connections.