If I seem to be busting out with blog posts lately, you can blame it on NaNoWriMo. Anticipation always makes me antsy and I have to vent the restlessness somewhere. But don’t expect me to keep it up once November starts. All my energy will be going into getting Camp Expendable written. Maybe even completed. I’ll still be blogging, but I won’t be doing boring daily NaNo updates. If you’re not participating in NaNo, you probably don’t care how many words I’ve written, or whether I’m suffering from writer’s block, brain burnout, or finger fatigue.
Because I’m concentrating so intensely on prep work for the novel, all kinds of unexpected goodies keep popping up that apply to writing fiction, whether you are or aren’t doing NaNo, whether you’re an experienced writer or a beginner. Today’s delight (at least it was a delight to me) is about inspiration and how it can create drastic changes in a story.
It’s kind of hard to end on an upbeat note when your protagonist has just been shot and you don’t know whether he lives or dies. But I intended to make a stab at it. I hoped to make it clear that it was everything that came before that was important and essentially upbeat in circumstances that should lead to hopelessness. What happens to Casey over the course of the story leads him to be in a position to be shot, and he has accepted the possibility of his death as relatively unimportant. I was satisfied with that ending and didn’t have any plans to change it.
And then inspiration struck. It was something I was reading, that had absolutely no point of connection to my plot, a blog post by John Michael Greer, the Archdruid. In The Patience of the Sea, he was talking about the meaning of life and whether it’s important that you be remembered. He’s always looking ahead to the distant future, and he recognizes that even the things and people we think will remain in humanity’s memory forever are just tiny blips that will disappear in the hundreds and thousands of years of the earth’s future history.
That took my concept of Casey’s life and possible death way beyond any consideration of what it means for that moment in time. If I let Casey live, it allows the significance of his gesture to extend outward and have some real effect on the world. He’s been transformed from the apathetic man we see at the start, into someone who can make a difference. His death, however brave it might be, would end his story right there. If I let him live, it also gives the novel one last dramatic uptick, as well as a more upbeat feeling combined with the open-endedness that tells us his story isn’t finished yet, even if we don’t know how it will turn out.