Look Behind The Curtain

I listened to a great interview with Neil Gaiman the other day that I talked about in my previous post. I always love talking and listening to writers that I admire. I pick up a lot of ideas. Neil has been doing something for years that I thought was unique. He writes about the book he working on in his blog posts. It’s a way of letting readers come behind the scenes to see the process as it evolves.

That sounds scary to me. Sort of like letting people into my bedroom to watch me get dressed. So many ideas never pan out. Others are tossed, discarded, abandoned. Even when they result in a completed manuscript, there’s no guarantee that it will become a published book. Still, the idea interests me. Maybe I should give it a try. Writing about writing is a good way of gathering thoughts together.

Okay, fans. I’ll open the door and let you in. If you thought this process was orderly, you’re in for a surprise.

So I’ve been wanting to get a pet corn snake for a long time. I’ve researched the subject to death, both in the library and on the web. I’ve read everything I can find about keeping snakes as pets. My wife says no. She can’t get by the idea of dead mice in the house. That’s what corn snakes eat.

Write a book about a boy who wants a pet snake. Think, think, think.

I’ll call him Omar. Is he Muslim? I don’t know yet. What do I know about Muslim-American families? Nothing. I just like the name Omar. Back to the story. Mother is opposed. Father is neutral. Omar has to convince Mother. He can’t do it by whining and crying. Tantrums don’t work. I took a hint from my friend Renée, who is a first-rate trial lawyer. She teaches her kids how to negotiate. So Omar has to present his argument and deal with Mother’s objections, which are not going away. In the end, they reach an agreement. Father writes down the conditions and both sign. Omar can have a snake, but he is totally responsible for it and the snake cannot leave his room. If it does, it’s gone. He also assumes full responsibility for keeping his room up to Mother’s standards.

I’ve written out a rough draft. The dialog is good. There are still many things I don’t know about the characters. Descriptions are sparse. I’m weak on that. Always have been. I hear the characters talking as I wrote. I don’t see them with my eyes or inside my head. I have little visual sense. I hardly ever dream. I’ll describe characters and setting later. This is usually the hardest part for me. When I read it over, the descriptions always seem forced. Perhaps it’s because they are. Can’t help it. Updike was an art student. So was Gogol. They write with an artist’s eye. Me? I could never draw anything.

Chapter One. Now Omar has to get a snake.

Tune in later as I solve that one.

body> html>