In today’s post, Squires tells about her writing life as she was working on The Time Seekers.
The Writing Life of D.A. Squires
During the long period of not writing, I occasionally thought about the story.
While it was true I was very busy, I have to admit it was easy to procrastinate—simply by telling myself ‘one day’ I would get back to it (the future time horizon seemed quite long from my vantage point at that time).
But in my heart of hearts, I knew there was another reason.
I was also fending it off because I had self-doubts (these were fairly big—boulder size).
If I did not attempt to write the story, I would never fail; whereas if I tried and did not succeed, I would know I did not have the ability. And maybe not knowing would be best . . .
As might be surmised, there had to be a reason why I began writing again, and there was.
One night, unexpectedly and out of the blue, my husband asked me (the intonation was unmistakable—it was really not a question, it was a challenge), “Are you ever going to finish that story about the macaw?”
Our children were no longer living at home—there was more free time and far fewer distractions.
The ‘question’ hung in the air as I experienced a not-so-small wave of panic. More like a tsunami. No more excuses to hide behind, and the feeling of a long, meandering future stretching out before me had definitely evaporated.
I recall opening the Word document as if it was a vault that had been sealed shut for a long time, and I could not fully remember the contents (valuable or not at all?)—with sweaty palms and a sense of trepidation.
I reread the first dozen chapters slowly. Not that bad. I sat thinking about it for a while, and finally decided I would try—after all, I had written the beginning and I knew the ending.
Deep breath—it was just the other 99% I had to write. When I made the decision, it felt like I dove into the deep end of a pool. And kept diving deeper.
I wrote almost every day, at least a few hours, and on weekends, day and night. My home office is in our bedroom, so I could just fall out of bed (literally) and then into my chair (or the deep water). Some weekends I worked in my nightgown and bathrobe. (I do live in Florida, so it might have occasionally been a bathing suit, and after all, I was on a very deep dive.)
My dear husband brought me countless cups of coffee, lunch, and then around 5:00 pm, a cocktail (the reward).
I wrote steadily.
The words seemed to flow, from where I did not know, but did not want to ponder the wellspring for fear it would go dry.
It often felt like I was floating in a current and it—the story—was carrying me.
Only once was I thrown against the rocks—the power went off suddenly on a clear, beautiful day. My story was open, nearly finished, and I had been working for half a day when the screen went black.
Not a good moment. I really did carry on (to be clear, I was hysterical—it was not saved anyplace other than my computer as a Word document, not smart AT ALL).
To talk me down from the suicidal ledge, my poor husband had to repeatedly remind me about AUTOSAVE. He was right. AUTOSAVE saved the story—and me.
The Hardest Part
The hardest part of writing the book was making sure all the small, and rather intricate, plot lines worked and nothing occurred in narrative or dialogue to undermine, contradict, or render less than credible what was happening.
Because even though you know you’re writing a fictional story, it becomes very real—almost as real as real life.
And your prayer is that the same magic happens to the reader: the reader reaction all fiction writers covet is “the willing suspension of disbelief.”
There can be nothing worse than the reader being jarred (and potentially closing the book never to return again) by fictional architecture which begins to crack, or horrors, collapse.
I also discovered that writing a work of fiction with many characters is like writing a play—you have to think about who is on the stage, who is not, what is said (and not said) and when and to whom—just like the scenes of a play.
But you are not only the Playwright, you are also—and concurrently—each of the Actors, the Director, Orchestra Conductor, Set Designer, Costume Designer, Make-up Artist and well, everything else. An author has a lot of jobs.
The most fun was researching the Salem Witch Trials and using my husband’s ancestor’s name, Mercy Disbrow, for the character who is being sentenced for witchcraft (the young people time travel back in time to 1692 to Salem, MA).
Historical fact: Mercy Disbrow was the only woman convicted of being a witch in Connecticut in the late 1600’s who was not put to death.
I finished writing the first draft of the story in about a year and a half.
To follow each day of this tour, get the links at www.writingforchildrencenter.com.