Accidentally Runspired

I’m in such a strange place with this novel. What started off as a lighthearted sort of funny time travel jaunt has transmogrified itself, not so much like a chameleon altering the color of its skin but more like a hermit crab abandoning one shell and then another and spending not an ounce of care or compassion on its previous self. A new idea strikes, and of course it requires seismic changes to the story as it’s already written, but the glances of the story that could be are so much more appealing than the story that is. So, naturally, I’m trying to find a way to attract more lightning strikes, but seeing as I’m not particularly keen to wander out into a summer thunderstorm wrapped in a roll of tinfoil and holding aloft a handful of golf clubs, I’ve been going for runs instead.

And a funny thing has happened.

The more I embrace the changes that occur to me while the blacktop creeps past under my feet, the more the lightning strikes, and the more intensely when it does. The “notes” section of my current draft is just about long enough to form its own chapter, I’ve redesigned one of the central characters from the ground up (twice), and the inconsistencies in the world of the story from first chapters to most recent are as numerous as ants on a piece of pumpkin pie at an abandoned picnic. I get an idea for a small change to make, so I make it going forward and leave the earlier pages to fix in post, and then the situation repeats; I’m on about my fiftieth iteration of that process. Not that anybody’s counting; might as well try to count locusts in the midst of a plague.

Maybe it’s an argument for planning a novel more thoroughly before I begin, or maybe it’s a lesson in not getting too attached to what I think a story is before I get my hands into its entrails. The process remains exhausting, though writing the novel has been a lot more fun of late (we’re getting into the final third of the book, so the action is beginning to run high again).

It almost makes me nervous to keep going out for runs with the novel on my mind, because I know that the only thing that will come of that is more changes to the story, more shifts in character, more dubious inspiration that makes me want to burn the thing to the ground just so that I can rebuild it stronger from the ashes.

Which is actually becoming something of a theme in the story. Not by design, but because… well… with a time travel story, what other theme can you drift toward? If you had the power, how could you not try to constantly reinvent the world you live in? If you could go back at the flip of a switch, how could you not attempt to recreate your own reality every time something didn’t break your way?

Writing gives you that power: the power to create worlds and destroy them, then recreate them even better based off what you learned when you built it the first time around.

…Anyway. It’s not like I’m going to quit running. Or writing. Struggles or no, the fact that I’m brimming with thoughts about the novel, the fact that I had to steal twenty minutes on a Sunday to write down some notes for the book, tells me that I’m still doing the right thing. Still writing the right story, still doing a good thing.

Back to building worlds tomorrow, and smashing them to pieces.