Processing

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Laurie Halse Anderson is officiating this write for 15 minutes a day writing course (?) on her blog. I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with the assignments, admittedly missed a day when she hadn’t posted yet, but I would go back to the ones that I’ve missed, so I think I’ve fit it in pretty well.

What I like about these writing assignments is that I can look at my characters in a different way. Like interviewing a secondary character about another one, or, having one of them find a box in a closet. In many cases, these are just what they are (I guess) meant to be, a writing exercise, but, in others, I’ve started seeing connections to how I could fit some of these aspects into my novel. Yesterday, I was writing a scene and I could see a whole scene.

It started with this exercise in which Anderson invited us to pick a colour and then write down ten things it made us think of and then ten verbs. We were supposed to put them together. I chose “midnight blue,” the verb “embracing,” “the moon.” At first I thought that this would lead to a short scenerio about walking at night time where the moon was full etc. But, it actually involved into something quite significant for my two characters as they walk down the street during twilight. The line: “It was like I was embracing the moon.” came to my head and I quickly jotted it down. It was one of those lines that held weight. I’m sharing it with you here in hopes that you can see my writing process (as Anderson kindly showed us hers). Will this end up in the novel? I don’t know. Will it end up somewhere else? I don’t know that either, but it was pretty cool to see how it evolved.

Other things that I’ve realized:

1) There are resources online to find names. This is often a problem for me. I think the character needs to reveal their name to me, and maybe that is true, but it is cool to think that I could go to a random name generator which might cosmically give my character a name.

2) There is a page for HTML colours! You are probably saying, “duh” but this will actually help me navigate one of my characters in a profound way.

Montgomery had a talent, a natural ability, to write about colour and nature. Consider how Anne talks about a “rose-leaf complexion” or how she names nature “Lake of Shining Waters.” Consider this line at the end of Anne of Green Gables: “The wind purred softly in the cherry boughs, and the mint breaths came up to her. The stars twinkled over the pointed firs…” (AGG, 245) Doesn’t it make you want to sigh?

This is discussed often by people who read and write about Montgomery. A natural instinct. One that doesn’t seem so natural to me in the same way. I seem to naturally write internal monologues very well. (Perhaps it is all the journal writing that I’ve done.) But, I’m learning how to create the details around the scene just right. For me, Montgomery would be the primary example on how to do this. Although does this mean that I’m putting undo pressure on myself? I don’t know.

What I do know, is that this fifteen minutes a day has breathed new life into how I’m approaching my novel and the paper that I’m writing. Not only am I learning more about my own writing process, but about myself as well.

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About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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