Writing Habits

There's something about being in a new place that allows for new routines, and with new routines comes new writing habits.

I move around a lot, and I find myself in Japan this week. For the next few weeks, actually. I'll explore, work, and hopefully turn out some pages. The fresh environment has been good for my imagination.

Yesterday I set out from my hotel in the drizzle, determined to visit some shrines and temples. I found a few--shrines in the morning are fascinating, quiet, pristine places--and then as the rain started I huddled beneath a pavilion in a park. It was actually in a garden around a castle, but I suppose it's a park too.

I huddled beneath the pavilion, watching a turtle try and crawl up from a pond onto a rock, and I found myself thinking about Mabel's biggest problem, as it stands. In the current draft, Montiere's plans and ambitions, and indeed, Monitere himself never come into light until deep in the book.

So, as the rain poured, I thought about what I could do to bring it up earlier. The turtle slipped back into the pond. I scratched my head.

I bought a new Moleskin in the airport before arriving in Japan. It's bright red and there's a strange reverence for the notebook, but it's not as intense as my respect for notebooks used to be. When I was younger, I used to only want to put final draft text in notes, everything correct and in neat handwriting, and that's pretty exhausting, so I rarely wrote anything down in notebooks. I overcame this disability by gaining a love for physically writing, improving my penmanship, and scribbling scene sketches. Now I put anything I want in notebooks because I see them as just opportunities to scribble, not sacred vehicles for finished ideas.

It sounds obvious.

So it's pouring down rain, and I have my notebook in my hand, with the fancy pen I received for graduating in May, and I start to sketch a scene. It goes something like this... Iji and Duncan are investigating the remains of a dangerous cult, but they stumble upon a ritual. In the ritual, shriveled ancient fortune-tellers are summoning a spirit to consult about the future. Montiere is there as well, clearly a leader of the group. (When is he not?) The spirit appears.

Originally the spirit appeared and discussed Montiere's ambitions, the prophecy involving Mabel, and the fight to come over the course of the book. But beneath the pavilion, I remembered screenwriting classes where professors said to always condense your timeline, if possible. And then I heard a friend remarking that there were many cool scenes described in the first draft of Mabel, but they weren't played out. My brain smashed the two trains of thought together.

And then, the spirit was speaking through Lawrence's body, which had appeared above the fire. The spirit remarks that he stole Lawrence, as a gift for Montiere. Lawrence can help them understand the future.

But when he drops Lawrence, naked and fully grown into the prophetic fire, Lawrence doesn't remember anything. Montiere tells him his name. The scene ends.

This messes with the current timeline, but it means I'll get to write more of Lawrence's story. I'm especially looking forward to him biting off Lady Zhi's finger and escaping.

This change also gives me more freedom with prospective. I figure I'll write the pages and see if it works. Then it will be easier for me to get back to editing....

I keep telling myself that.