I'm thrilled to announce our June Giveaway is the newly released -- drumroll, please -- Talking to the Dead, by our very own lovely, talented, feisty, Canadian Bonnie Grove. Leave a comment for a chance to win her incredible debut novel.
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I've really enjoyed the last few posts here at Novel Matters, and the comments our visitors have made as well. Bonnie's post on 5/22 was very entertaining, caused us all to laugh. What's especially funny is, it wasn't far from the truth. As writers, we're never "off." We're working 24/7, our minds never quite shutting down. Inspiration can and does strike anywhere, at any time. Those who know us best recognize the moment of inspiration, and patiently wait as we scramble to preserve our thoughts on paper, or, uh, something close to it. Unlike Bonnie, I don't keep a notepad handy (note to self: you should), so in a restaurant or in the car I usually find a paper napkin to scribble on. At church it's the bulletin, in the restroom it's ... well, you get the idea.
Our stories are hard taskmasters -- they never give us a break. Even in our dreams, inspiration prances by like a butterfly looking for a net. I have learned to keep a notepad by my bed, for though I'm personally seldom inspired by dreams, I am terribly inspired in the time before I go to sleep. My mind in its relaxed state is a fertile ground of creativity. Scenes, dialogue, it's all there, like a movie playing just for me. That's when I hear my characters' voices the clearest, when my fictional world comes alive. I used to get up and run to my office to jot down my thoughts, because I've learned the hard way I will lose them if I don't. I was like popcorn, popping up time after time till the taskmaster finally let up enough for me to go to sleep. Then a friend, God bless her forever, gave me a pen that lights up. Now I don't have to get out of bed -- or wake my husband -- to capture the inspiration.
But while a free-wheeling imagination may produce the material for the novel, it takes disciplined time at the keyboard to write it. Latayne said it so well: "I absolutely must have extensive, uninterrupted blocks of time to first travel to, and then reside in, a fictional world. I can’t write a novel in short spurts." I heartily agree. Most of us can't just slip in to write a sentence or two, then slip back out to rejoin the real world. Interruptions can really mess up the flow of things. But neither can we turn off our fictional world just because we aren't at the keyboard. No, the life of a novelist is far more schizophrenic than that.
Our characters, their problems, and the world in which they live must first be real to us in order for them to be real to our readers. We have to know them well enough to tell their story, to make it believeable, otherwise who's going to care?
So I just have to wonder, what's it like to be Stephen King? If you could sit down and chat with any author, living or not, about one of their fictional worlds, who would it be and why?