Last week I was talking to my mom about my book. We talked about my progress and she cheered me on, like only a mom can do. She asked if I had a title for the book yet and I said no, not really, I just call it Helen for now. I told her I wasn’t really sure how I would pick a title, this being my first book and all. She said, “Someday you will write something, a word or a sentence, and you will know it should be the title.” I agreed, because a) it sounded good, like maybe something that happens to a real writer, something kind of magical and writer-y, and b) it was as good an idea as any, since, as I may have mentioned before, I have no idea how to write a novel. We left it at that, and on my merry writing way I went.
I’ve been working hard on chapter 4, based on a new character that I’ve been getting to know, slowly. It’s been tough but fun figuring this person out. I am learning what it means when a writer or actor says a character isn’t really based on anybody he or she knew, but was influenced by many people. This character IS shaped by a number of people I know, but (spoiler!) he is a hard one for me to figure out. I am about three-quarters of the way through chapter 4 and, while I know it is going to take significant reworking, I do feel that I have a much better understanding of who this person is, how he has become the person he is in this story.
Last night was a relatively short night of writing, as this week at work has been kicking my butt. Still I managed about an hour of writing, continuing chapter 4. I wrote a paragraph that described this new character’s past and it flowed pretty smoothly. I wrapped up a little later and closed the laptop, putting Helen and Company to bed for the night.
I am finding that I do my best “writing” from about 5:30 AM until I pull into work at about 7:00 AM. This encompasses my shower-and-dressing time and my commute. Apparently I can accomplish these tasks with very little thought, providing me with about an hour and a half of uninterrupted “writing time.” For whatever reason, this is some of my most productive time. It was during one of these commutes when I realized that I knew the rest of the book. I knew how the story ended. It was a revelation to me, and I remember texting this to Jeremy as soon as I got to work. I didn’t text him the actual ending. I just sent, “I know how the story ends!” I think he was happy for me but a little confused. I suppose I can’t blame him, as this is new territory for him, too. I have written, in my head, paragraphs, snippets of dialogue, descriptions during this daily interlude. I live in fear that I am going to forget what I’ve written, because it is often not even the part I am currently writing. I’m working on a way to capture this, to record it somehow on my phone and then have it converted to text that can be saved and which I can then refer to later, but I haven’t figured it out yet. (“Working on” might be a bit strong, here, as it seems to imply that I’ve spent more than 5 minutes on it, which I haven’t.)
Today’s shower/dress/drive combo was a little different. I started out thinking about what was to come, the end of chapter 4, how it needed to illustrate this character and tie the story together. I began to mentally go back over what I had written so far in this chapter, mentally noting what research I needed to do, wondering, always wondering, if it sucked, trying to see where it was going by looking at where it had gone before. At some point, while thinking about what I had written last night, my title came to me, from something I had written last night. No, not in a “Come to Jesus,” flash of insight. It sort of appeared, resolved out of a mist, slowly solidified. Once it was clear, I was certain. I had a title. I HAVE a title. The BOOK has a TITLE.
I’m sure I am breaking 853 rules of writing, but I am pretty sure that as a first-time, untrained novelist I can at least get away with it this time, so I am going to announce the title here. I need to first add the qualifier that this may change. I know, I said I was certain, but the truth of the matter is (say it with me, now,) I have no idea how to write a novel, and writing a novel definitely includes writing the title. So it is only fair to say that I may be completely wrong about everything I’ve ever said about this. But for today, I am sure. Sure enough to tell you.
The novel I am writing is called The Lonely Time.
You have no idea how happy it makes me to write that.