Writing in the Dark

I have Covid again and am feeling addled. I’m trying to work on my latest work-in-progress, and it feels like my brain is sealed in bubble wrap. I can see my work. I know it’s there. But I can’t quite touch it, can’t quite make it out. My husband thinks I’m an idiot for trying to write like this. He’s probably right. (He usually is, which makes him a terrible pain in an argument.)

Yet, to some extent, writing is often like that. I live in a world that’s dark and fuzzy. It’s not even a world—it’s a void. I get a glimpse of something—usually a character—and start to imagine things around him. Situations, settings, other characters, a past. But everything is dim and murky. It’s also usually quiet. If I’m lucky, that initial character who showed up will talk to me. Sometimes, he’ll chatter incessantly, and I almost wish he would shut up. I love it when he starts talking to the other main character, though. Despite everything being so hazy, I always relax somewhat when that happens.

I usually start with some notes. The main characters help me with those. The outline, however, is my own boss battle. It feels like pulling a rope from a vast, dark lake and not knowing what you’ll find at the other end. I like to sketch everything out as fast as possible, going with my gut and subconscious—letting everything fly and then land where it wants.

With this framework of thin bones, I go into the darkness once again. There’s an archaeological feel about this part, like building a prehistoric creature for a museum display. I have to figure out exactly what the bones mean, what kind of hide the creature had, what color fur or feathers. I have to discover the flesh that clothes the bones I excavated. I have to do this blindfolded, arranging coils of intestines and molding mounds of fat, sightless, with my bare hands until I decide the animal feels right. Sometimes, it’s not what I was expecting. Sometimes I knew it in the womb.

So, despite my husband’s sound warnings, I’m working today. I’m used to the dark. It’s my companion and my workspace. The fog, the diffuse bubble wrap covering everything—I can deal with that.

There’ll just be a lot of editing once I’m well. Editing is turning on the lights and watching the critters scatter. I’m almost ready for that part, but I’m going to play in the dark for a little while longer.

2 thoughts on “Writing in the Dark”

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