The brain solves problems at 4 ayem. It does so while writers stare at the digits on the clock that have become all too familiar, lately. The problems you solve there are not always the ones you wanted to set right. And they don’t get solved the way you expect them to.
The question I’ve been facing is a huge one: how to make plausible the pivotal—but improbable—device that drives the new book’s plot.
Without this device there is no book, plain and simple. If it fails in being real, even for a moment, the book dies there. One does not have to believe that such a thing exists, or even that it might. One must only accept that it is alive in this world and that it is worthy of the story that one has raised around it.
One cannot muscle this things into a reader’s belief. One can’t create truth out of the fantastical with glowing prose. One can’t apologize for the choice. One cannot pretend that the device is anything but what it is, and try to do it well enough that the reader will want to stay for the ride.
I look to The Time Traveler’s Wife as an example: a book built upon an impossible notion—and yet, we don’t mind that it does. The improbable idea is the vehicle for greater meaning. It is the pathway to something bigger.
In the current work, I have plagued myself with questions about how this pivotal phenomenon happened; where it came from and how much needed to be explained. Was it a cop-out to just ask it to be? Did the character get hit on the head and–bam!–it appeared? (The answer is NO.) Did its simple existence push the entire story past the point of acceptance?
Tough questions that can kill a book before its born.
But Sleepless-Writer-Head works in mysterious ways. At 4 ayem, the stubborn question began to answer itself…but not in the way I expected it to do.
Sleepless-Writer-Head turned the stubborn, resistant question inside out.
Suddenly, instead of asking myself how the phenomenon happened, I found myself asking what the creation of the thing looked like…which turned into an examination of how we affect the space around us in every living moment, in ways seen and unseen…which turned into an understanding part physiological, part philosophical, part mystical. An explanation improbable, still. But an idea naked and vulnerable no longer.
4:25 ayem. The trail marker on the path to Suspension of Disbelief. The workaround. The ethers work in mysterious ways.