I found it interesting, when I wrote The Oarsman, observing the dance between silence and mind. Silence, the place from where ideas are sent up on wings of inspiration, wasn’t enough on its own to craft a good book.
After having the first draft pour out, and then greedily wanting to expand the book by adding more characters and descriptions, I ended up with a bloated mess. It took me an extra four months to get it down to something lighter.
The mind asked silence for an idea and it created one. The mind asked silence for a flourishing description, or an interesting character drive, and silence offered them up with no complaint. The mind asked for more and more, and silence, of course, never objected.
Mind, as the agent to the world, has the responsibility to ask for just enough, and when given something, to know when to leave it alone, or when to pare it down into something just right.
As I write The Ant That Found God, I am taking a more sensible approach, a balance between planning and inspiration. I let a few thousand words pour out, but then I stop and make sure things are moving at a good pace, that characters and scenes are serving the story.
As a side note, I find it interesting that I have come full circle. As a twelve year old kid, sitting in my room pretending to do homework, I dreamed of being a filmmaker, like many kids of the 1970s-80s who saw Star Wars. I would sit there at my desk and doodle story ideas with pen and paper.
When I got older, and fell in love with the cadence of words, I stopped doodling and instead only typed things on the computer. Now, thirty-five years later, I’ve rediscovered doodling, but with a twist. I do it with my tablet and stylus!
Whenever I take a break from writing and want to plan something out, I grab my tablet and start sketching — very horrible sketching mind you. There is something about drawing freehand, crooked lines and scribbly words, that gets the mind to slow down, to stop asking silence for more and more, and instead pare and shape what it’s already been given.