Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1. The beginning of Pandora’s Genes

This is my first post for the 2012 WordCount Blogathon, which takes place all of May. 

I was already a professional writer, mostly of adult nonfiction and series books for children, when I wrote my first adult novel, Pandora’s Genes. It began as a dream, just after I had finished a long, research-heavy book.

In the dream, I saw a good man who was about to do something very bad for what he thought were good reasons. The dream was fuzzy about what he was doing and why, but the feelings when I woke up were sharp and real. Who was this man? What was he about to do? Why was he going to do it? I really had no idea, but the thoughts were so insistent that I sat down and started typing… and basically didn’t stop until I had a rough draft of the entire first part of Pandora’s Genes. This first writing took me about three weeks, and it was essentially all I did during that time. .

This was the first and so far only time I have written something long this way; it was almost as if it were being dictated to me. The characters and situations seemed to arrive on the page of their own accord, and I worked as quickly as I could, because I wanted to find out what would happen next. The process was very exciting, mentally and yes, physically. I later described it to a friend as “like having a three-week long orgasm.”

It was six years from the first writing before the book was published, but the basic kernel for the entire story was there, then.

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  1. What an interesting path to writing Pandora's Genes. Reminds me of Stephenie Meyer's recollection of how she got to writing Twilight from a vivid dream and how it was almost a compulsion to get the story on paper because she was so interested in what would happen next with her characters, a young girl named Bella and a vampire named Edward. Great first post on the blogathon.

  2. Hi, Kathryn. It's good to "meet" you through Blogathon.

    What a fascinating start to a novel! Will you also be talking about the process from that to the published story several years later?

    I'm a literary translator (fiction) and non-fiction writer, but during a free write a few weeks ago I started the kernel of a fiction story. I'm not sure where it came from but the character has stuck with me. I've even jotted down some biographical info about her and will see if I can take her into a short story or novella... or rather, see if she'll lead me 'cause I have no idea where she's going!

  3. Thank you both for your comments. I believe that our subconscious knows a lot more about writing than we do consciously. I've written a lot of "suspense" YA series novels, and have often been amazed at what a good job my subconscious does in plotting. I've gotten to the end of a book, and this did happen with the Pandora's books, to discover that I had previously "planted" information important in the denouement, but did so before I knew what the denouement would be. I intend to blog about this in a future post.

  4. Dreams are a fantastic way to find inspiration. Things are usually so very vague that all you can do is grasp as emotions and half remembered nuances upon waking. The ideas tend to just tumble forth and nothing seems impossible with the right motives to back it.

    I can relate to the need to put words to blank paper as well. A friend and I started up a project just over the weekend and by the time Monday rolled around, we were somewhere in the high 29k for words. Both of us are itching to back to writing, but I demanded a break. My keyboard isn't what I would call ergonomic.

    Thank you for sharing the source of your inspiration! And cheers to the rest of May!

  5. I envy you your writing white hot passion -- maybe it doesn't happen to nonfiction writers since you already know the story and just have to shape it? In any case, it's never happened to me, though I've certainly gone into fugue states where the house could be on fire while I'm writing. But BIG congratulations on getting started on this new project. You clearly had a lot of writing bottled up!

    1. Thanks, Edie. I don't think I'm capable of a white hot passion for anything anymore, but I'm enjoying the process again, and love the way ideas bubble up from my subconscious, demanding to be noticed.

    2. Our first home computer lived in my son's room, which was usually full of guys playing video games. At first I just noodled around, teaching myself keyboarding, but when I started having ideas that demanded to be expressed, I became oblivious to the mayhem around me. My offspring had to work to get my attention, and they insist that I snarled at them when they managed to break through. I don't doubt it.