Caroline Leavitt is the kind of friend a writer needs. Highly accomplished (eight novels - see her home page) and unfailingly generous with her time and good thoughts, she's also about 100 pages into her latest novel. But when she and I sat down to discuss writing, "how we get started" came up. So here are Caroline's thoughts on the subject. Mine are running today on her blog.
I’m really honored Clea asked me to guest on her blog. Part of my writing day is always checking in with her. How’s the work going? What are you having problems with? That constant support and connection keeps me going. The lucky thing is we are both starting new novels now, so we’re going through this whole process together and every once in a while, we are going to guest on each other’s blogs to talk about our writing progress. (So be sure to check my blog today for Clea’s entry!)
How do I work? Slowly---I’m in the honeymoon phase right now, where I have about 100 pages that work. The beginning of a novel is always wonderful because you are newly obsessed with the idea, you have a passion for the characters and the first chapter seems great every time you have read it (which at this count, for me, is about ten thousand times.)
But now, today, I’m venturing a little deeper into my novel, and the ground is giving way a bit. I set up my premise, but now what? (You should know I’m deeply superstitious, and while I can talk about the writing process forever, the thought of talking about the actual characters and plot gives me brain panic) So I gather my courage. I always start by rewriting a little of what I did the day before—say a page—the way you warm up your muscles with stretches before really getting into the exercise. Then I line up music that I know takes about three to four hours to finish. And I work. Today, I’m obsessed with my character Simon’s past and how it impacts his present, so I get to weave in some back-story.
Wish me luck.