I find it useful to leave myself a short note at the end of a writing session. These notes often save me time lost trying to recall what I intended to write next, and headaches caused by omiting important plot points.
Shaking with fear and guilt, Erin told the Nighthawk,”We want to fix what my parents did, and save your islands from the Coal People. But we’re just kids, and we’re lost in time!”
Current Word Count: 32, 613
As the girls entered the building, Erin was struck by the enormity of the lobby and everything in it.
The room was the size of Central Train Station. Forty-feet above the floor, the ceiling was a backlit blue-glass dome supported by thick brass arches. On each of the side walls hung a huge steel clock with giant brass gears that turned at various speeds. High on the wall ahead was mounted an enormous glass map of the world with brass continents. Blue neon tubes radiated from Xdom across the amber oceans to the great ports of the world. Beneath the map, was a steel-clad reception desk. Behind it, a line of tall, powerfully built guards paced menacingly in their black suits. Their keen eyes shifted quickly amongst the visitors milling about the room and scattered among the chairs of the waiting area.
The room gave Erin a chill, which she believed was intentional. The high ceiling and the big men would naturally make the visitors feel small. Standing between the huge clocks gave the impression that the company’s time was more important than the minutes tracked by the visitors’ little watches. And the massive world map with its glowing tendrils spreading across the vast globe made the company seem like a planetary spider.
Erin drifted toward a placard marked “History of X Energy.” Perhaps it could tell them what had happened to their beautiful city. But before she reached it, she was stopped by Monique’s exclamation.
“Oh, my Gosh, it’s THEM!”
Erin turned back toward the reception counter where the guards stared back at the girls like hawks on a wire eyeing a couple of mice.
She turned her attention to two extraordinary men moving toward Monique and Erin.
Monique was right. It was THEM.
Current Word Count: 27,077
I’ve learned a great deal about writing from reading. You are what you read. Everyone says it. Stephen King in his On Writing, for one. John Lennon became the songwriter he was by listening to stacks and stacks of pop 45’s.
And yet, good writing doesn’t just come from reading, nor education by itself. Satisfactory writing, for me at least, comes through quite a lot of unsatisfactory writing. It’s easy to beat yourself up about it. Indeed, I’ve gone to the school of self-flagellation wearing my sack cloth and ashes. By in large, that time was wasted. Vanity and modesty are both illusory.
Good writing comes in the effort of making your imagination clear. Clarity informs everything. It tells you what is overstated, ommited and overdramatized. To be clear is to tell a tale or sing a song without deviation, and isn’t that what we all look for in art?
And patience can’t be underestimated, for it implies two qualities one brings to a piece: First, the dignity of labor. To be patient means you will show up on time with a willingness to work for as long as it takes. Patience further suggests that you will leave your negative nature behind and not infect the words with it.
The photograph, by the way, is of my granddaughter Erin who at three-years-old exhibits a remarkable degree of clarity and patience in so much that she does – especially her storytelling. As an example when she was barely two, she created an imaginary sister named Wall. Her hands and feet are mermaids and such. Each has a name and a set of traits. She has stories about them all, and talks to them regularly. The remarkable thing is how clearly she remembers each vignette and how consistent are the properties of each character. I know this because when I confuse them, she corrects me with an all but imperciptible show of exasperation. She is my inspiration.
Here is a quote from The Inventors’ Daughter series website in which I describe my collaboration with famed Dream City writer S. E. Hunt. (S. E. is a very close relation. In fact we could hardly be closer.)
Every night – very, very late – I fly high above the clouded moonlit ocean from Seattle to Dream City, never quite sure whether Professor Spotworth’s buzzing, sputtering Astral Phaeton will stay aloft for the entire frigid, buffeted journey. Once there, I join S. E. in a gloomy, back-alley coffee shop where we scribble, shout and toss notes at one another from opposite ends of a long, battered table.
Why have a collaborator? Don’t get me wrong. I’m used to working alone, and I tried my best to research Dream City and write the book by myself. I was shown the shark-shaped Aquarium. I joined the Jupiter Space Museum, a five-story glass ball resembling the striped planet with the hurricane-eye riding on its equator. I even travailed up to the Tripod observation deck where I could look down seven-hundred feet onto the three Dream Islands below.
But it was no use. I could tell the stories alright, but the pages were as dry as a Pharaoh’s mummy. No, I needed a partner who was not only a good writer, but a resident of Dream City and someone who actually knew the brave and clever Erin Isabelle Becker-Spotsworth. I believe our collaboration, though quite stormy, has yielded far richer tales than I myself could have ever told alone, or he by himself for that matter.
I recommend to all writers that they occassionally take the opportunity to join a fellow scribbler and see if one plus one does not equal … well, who knows what?
I suppose not knowing is rather the point, wouldn’t you say?
I’m a Seattle writer currently working on The Inventors’ Daughter series, a collection of children’s books for middle readers ages 8-12. I’ve completed the first book, The Inventors’ Daughter, and am now working on the Timearang Pirates*.
Erin Isabelle, my protagonist, is an eleven-year-old girl whose rather difficult job it is to protect her inventor parents from the world – and the world from their unpredictable inventions. Neither genius nor superhero, she is a good hearted kid who, like any other, has homework and friends and lots of problems with her parents. The series is for young readers who enjoy science fiction, action, villains, amazing inventions, friendship, pirates and … well, lots more I can’t talk about yet.
More about the series can be found at www.TheInventorsDaughter.com
My writer’s website is at www.SperryHunt.com
* Timearang Pirates is a working title for the second in the Inventors’ Daughter Series.