The last time I had an idea for a novel, I had to haul my ass out of bed to write it all down and was aggravated by the missed sleep this sudden surge of creativity caused. Well, I’ve done it again—my creative mind has grabbed hold of my attention, but in a whole new and inconvenient way.
I am deeply interested in and committed to the novel I’ve only just started writing in the last few months, and am certain that it is the perfect premise for my first full-length fiction endeavor. However, a whole new idea for yet another novel popped into my brain over the weekend. This is both good and not good.
Dylan and I went cross-country skiing on Saturday, and left the dogs to snuggle together in the car. Dylan is an incredibly skilled skier in several styles, and I consider myself a pretty adept skier as well. Still, the conditions at Snoqualmie Summit this past weekend were treacherous for us both. Heading down the very first track off the ski lift, we entered a haze of thick, wet, fog so dense we could barely see each other. Dylan turned around and shouted back to me, “Jeez—looks kind of ominous.” And just like that, the idea was born. My protagonist took shape in my mind, and a whole world unlike anything I’ve seen before painted itself around him.
As we slid and skidded down one after another icy slope, even taking our skis off to walk down some especially unsafe sections, I was working on the building blocks of a world I’d like to crawl inside and write about for a few years. Without giving anything away at this early stage, the book will be an unprecedented approach to apocalypse. There will be a volcanic winter, a young man, and lots of journeying through clean, quiet, vast, winter landscapes. That’s all I can say for now. This kind of project will take years of research, intense planning, and as my sophomore effort might just end up being my opus. It could also end up making me insane. We’ll see.
Having these kinds of spontaneous brainstorms feels a lot like diving into a major life decision, in part because it is. This nugget of creativity will likely determine a huge part of my life for a long time to come. Poor Dylan had to spend the rest of our ski day listening to me play out several different apocalypse scenarios. A caring older brother and writer himself, he kindly lent his ideas well past the point where the discussion lost interest for him.
After calling Kelly and letting her talk me down from my cracked-out literary ledge, I realized just how shitty this timing could be. I’m just barely gaining some momentum with my current novel, and I have to be careful not to let myself get distracted while simultaneously cultivating the early bits of this new novel premise. Tricky, tricky. And then a question entered my brain: Has this idea come to me because my subconscious is dying for some kind of counterweight to my current novel, or because this proposed new take on Armageddon is actually a viable story? I feel torn, excited, anxious, and frightened all at the same time. In summation: I am a spaz right now. A big, nerdy, history channel-watching spaz.
Kelly gave me her usual steady wisdom, urging me to research and tinker with this new idea when I need a little break from what I’m working on now. We both agreed that trying to work on both projects simultaneously will drive me to madness, and likely not result in great productivity. Kelly knows me and my writing almost better than I know myself, so I trust her when she says that something this grandiose needs to be carefully thought out; it will take years of preparation and the knowledge gained from having already experienced the process of writing a novel before I can really dig in. I plan to work on a short story version of this idea to get started, and otherwise devote myself to my current project and the character who will always be my first literary love.
I guess that this is how it works sometimes: when I am ready to write I often find myself totally devoid of good ideas, and now I have too many to deal with properly. Oh new idea, you came to me at a terrible time, but you are truly no less loved by me because of it.