Saturday, November 15, 2008
My Fear of Caves
When I first started writing my novel "The Nightwing's Quest" which was published in 2008, I was on chapter three when I realized I was getting too scared to continue writing.
This novel is about a world of dark elves who live underground. It all sounded fine until I got to the chapters about the underground. How would it really feel to be underground? Could I really imagine what it would be like to live in a cavern hundreds of feet below the earth?
So I started to paint. I got some watercolors and began to paint caves. And slowly, my imagination began to kick in. I felt better.
The cover of my novel was actually painted many years after I finished. I started writing it in 1989 and finished the last draft in 2002. The painting was actually done after my publisher Jigsaw Press asked me for an idea for a cover. I just dashed off this watercolor and said, "Here's a sketch you can use." I thought she must have a stable of painters on staff.
Instead, she actually used it for the cover. I was astonished. But somehow I think -- or hope -- that I conveyed the magic of the underground to the prospective readers of my novel.
It was a great experience writing my first novel. It was a little like exploring a cave with nothing more than flashlight. I would run home every few days with a new chapter to read to my son and husband, who were my first critics. It was around 1989 that I also joined a writer's group, having met a fellow fantasy writer at a workshop. This writer's group was also very helpful to me over the years - critiquing my work in a way that family can't really do. No one is more understanding or helpful than a fellow writer.
A writer will say, "I don't quite understand what your character meant on page 2 ..." or "Why did she say that?" A family member will more likely say, "That's great. I love it." Good for the ego, but not necessarily helpful.
So it's done. And now what? My publisher wants me to continue and write a new book about one of the characters that she really liked. Meanwhile, I am in the beginning chapters of a new novel set in the Inuit world.
My journals of my time in India are yet to be edited, and who knows what will become of the mainstream novel I put aside years ago?
Poetry fills in the cracks. A writer's work is never really finished.