Today I’m sharing a glimpse behind the screen to who how the writing process works for me. This touches on where the original idea came from for Rewriting Destiny and how that has changed as I’ve written more of the story.
The story of my novel, Rewriting Destiny, began with a simple writing prompt involving a one-sided telephone conversation involving the two people on the phone and one person in the room with one of those two people. That prompt introduced me to Willow and Poppy, but it provided little shape for the initial scenes.
As a result, if you’ve read the linked opening to Rewriting Destiny (which was titled, Destiny Awaits), you’ll notice that I didn’t know yet where my story was taking place.
It was only after I joined my two characters on their journey that I realized they were not part of a dystopian landscape in which cell phones existed. Nor were they living in a different, ancient time period. Rather, as I followed them through the landscape of their world, I discovered Willow and Poppy lived in an alternate earth setting and there were creatures that exist in their world that do not exist in ours.
Another result of that writing prompt is that my characters, their story, dove immediately into the action of the quest. This leaves my reader with too many questions and little understanding of the world in which Willow and Poppy exist. While I’ve written 30,000 words of their story, I have slowed down the forward progress of the story and returned to its starting point.
Rather than pursuing their quest, I am meeting them in their village and learning about their lives. It’s not clear to me yet how much of the material I write currently will be included in the final manuscript. But the material matters to me and my relationship with these characters. I need to know why they left and why this quest matters to them; but I need to see it and hear it from them and not force my ideas upon them.
That’s how writing works for me. It’s fluid and the characters are not mine to manipulate but to follow their lead and let them reveal who they are to me. When I write, the story plays like a film in my mind and I strive to capture in words the scenes that unfurl before me.
With this in mind, I showed up last night for about 20 minutes to spend time with Willow and she introduced me to her mother. This scene revealed some things about Willow I already knew, but it also surprised me with some of the details their conversation touched upon, like that the lullaby Willow’s mother has been singing to her daughter since she was born holds an important message for Willow. However, if you were to ask me right now what the message is, I’d have to tell you I have no idea. I won’t know until her mother shares more information or Willow begins to piece it together.
The straw of her sleeping palette crinkled beneath her as Willow shifted her body, drawing herself closer to her mother. She could feel the warmth radiating in the cold darkness of her bedroom. Despite the thickness of straw layered with animal pelts beneath her palette, the damp chill of the winter night seeped into Willow’s bones. She pulled the thick quilt her mother had made for her on her tenth birthday up around her chin. Beside her, her mother sang softly the familiar lullaby Willow often hummed to herself while doing chores. It was a song her mother had made up just for her and the tune made her feel connected to her mother whenever Willow hummed it to herself.
“Yes, my sweet.”
“What if I am unable to fall asleep tonight?”
Willow’s mother stroked Willow’s hair without speaking.
“Were you able to fall asleep the night before your Destiny revelation ceremony?” Willow asked her mother.
Even in the darkness, Willow felt her mother smile.
“I was,” she replied.
“Were you not fearful of what the ceremony would reveal?”
“I was not, my darling.” Again her mother fell silent, her breath the only whisper of sound in the dark room. “Nor should you be, dear Willow.”
Willow let her mother’s words soak into her heart before responding. “Yet, I am.”
“The Ceremony cannot truly reveal your destiny, my child. You destiny is within you, even from the time I carried you in my womb.”
“(Mother’s Name), the child must get her sleep in preparation for tomorrow’s events.” Willow’s dad’s voice reminded her often of thunder. Not the gentle summer rumblings, but the fierce storms that came with the onset of the winter freeze. The storms that caused Willow to tremble.
Beside her, Willow felt her mother stiffen. “Tomorrow’s ceremony is a special event, and we will celebrate the Elders’ revelation with you,” her mother told her and then shifted so that Willow felt her mother’s warm breath upon her ear. “There is much to be learned, my darling Willow, but for tonight know that your Destiny is something only you can truly know. It must come from your heart, as did mine.”
Her mother’s lips kissed her upon the forehead and her mother’s gentle fingers stroked Willow’s face. “Sleep well, my child. Hear the words of my lullaby within your heart and you will uncover the truth of your Destiny.”
With those words, her mother rose, stroking Willow’s hair one last time and then returned to the living space to put the final touches on Willow’s dress for the Revelation Ceremony and listen to Willow’s father exhort the Circle of Elders and their wisdom.