For some people, writing a novel is like knitting. You begin at the beginning, and you go on until you get to the end, and then you stop.
Personally, I’m very glad that I was born into the age of the word processor, because I absolutely cannot do that. Oh, I’ve tried. But if a scene, a moment, a phrase, from chapter thirty-two is dancing around in my head, then I can’t settle down to write chapter one.
For me, it’s more like patchwork. Or one particular project, anyway, which was more of a freehand effort than most of my quilts. Let me demonstrate:
You have a general idea of what you want to create, and you start with an idea that takes your fancy. In this case, it was the four seasons, and I thought I’d begin with a jolly yellow sun for summer.
You might want to incorporate something that wouldn’t quite fit into a previous project. (I made more of those blue flowers than I needed. Never mind! The spares will do for spring!)
(This is a bit meta. Any patches in here which are in English, as opposed to gobbledegook, are from the now-deleted first chapter of Speak Its Name.)
You get all your ideas down and then move them around a bit, seeing how they fit best, what needs to come after what.
As you go along joining things together, you see where things can be tightened up.
You see where the gaps are, and you start filling them…
… until you get something that’s more like the right shape.
At that point, you can start tidying it up, taking out the things that were only there to hold it in shape during construction.
Now comes the backing and the pinning and the quilting, the crawling around on the floor and swearing a lot. You feel like you’re nearly there, but there’s still a frustrating amount left to do. (This is where the analogy falls down a bit. This is, oh, I don’t know, the proofreading. And waiting for people to get back to you to tell you where you’ve got things wrong.)
But once you’ve done that then there’s just the finishing off. And then you can feel rather pleased with yourself. Because the thing’s done, and while it doesn’t perhaps look exactly the way you once envisioned it, it’s not nearly as bad as you once thought it was going to be.