Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Easing In by Laurie Calkhoven
I know the September theme is jumping in, but once again I am a contrarian. It’s not that I’m not capable of big, bold moves—I’ve made them—but it’s not my normal modus operandi. Even getting into a pool, it’s rare for me to take a leap into the deep end. I ease in, standing on my tiptoes to keep the cold water off my stomach until the very last moment, and only then do I plunge in.
A lot of people were shocked when I quit my job to be a full-time writer (ten years ago now). I hadn’t yet sold my first novel, but being a writer without a day job was always a someday dream for me. I envisioned it, I planned for it, and I saved for it. I had enough money in the bank to get me through the first six months or so, and I did research into the kinds of freelance writing jobs that were available to writers. And so when I auditioned to ghostwrite a middle grade series for an entertainment company—and won—I made the leap. At the time it felt like a big, bold move, but I was ready. And when the project fell apart (a long story…), that bank account gave me the space I needed to start a healthy freelance career.
I’m the same way with new book ideas. I don’t get an idea and start writing immediately. That doesn’t work for me. I have to lay the groundwork. I do research. I do lots and lots of mediations to learn about my characters and what they want. I brainstorm scene lists to get a general idea of the plot. I need to know my opening scene and my final wrap up scene (even if they change down the road). Only then do I take the plunge.
I’m a believer in the phrase leap and the net will appear. But I also believe in meeting the universe half way. So I can be slow to get started, but once I do, I can’t be stopped.