It was 8,100 words and a week ago that a novel flopped into my head.
I had no previous thought or intention of writing it.
The sneaky thing visited in the pre-dawn gray, waking with me, getting me out of bed and giving me a hop and a jump.
Coffee was forgotten, and I never did get around to “waking up” — not at noon, not at 5pm, not at 2am, when I couldn’t see straight and called it good for the day.
That first day threw 6,158 words went on the screen.
Here’s how it started.
My eldest son is a handful. That’s putting it mildly, though he’s a good kid. Good, but mine. That puts him at half-bad to start.
Throughout the day prior, he’d been difficult most of the day, and in the evening, his mother sent him to his room; a rare punishment, but he’d earned it and maybe more.
At some point, alone in his room, which remains baby-proofed, he put on a pair of Halloween gloves. These were glow-in-the-dark skeleton gloves, and after being unimpressed with them, and knowing that to glow in the dark, such material must first be exposed to light, and the more light the better — well, he grabbed hold of a nightstand’s bulb and didn’t let go until he smelled smoke and whatever a boy’s hand on fire smells like.
He was gooey-fingered and halfway to crying when we got to the room, and the bulb was bubbling with glow in the dark slop.
To make more of it than it was is a temptation.
It was only a wisp of smoke, some gummy plastic on a warm bulb, little more than that. His hand was red but more from warmth than being burned.
We spoke to him about the dangers of fires in houses, and not with anger, but the calm required of parents to get anything through a young kid’s head.
If you’d asked any of us about it by midnight, we’d have had trouble remembering the scene.
But that night, a cabin burned down in my dreams.
Nice cabin, too.
By the time I awoke, it wasn’t an anonymous cabin, nor was it our house. It was something else. What it was by the time I pulled socks on was half a novel waiting to see if I could put fingers to keys faster than it wandered off.
Those first 6,158 words were a study in typing, not writing. I didn’t read the first sentence of the novel for days, and I never looked back that first day, though I took a break once or twice to find a detail I couldn’t remember asleep or awake, dates and maps kinds of minutiae.
But all the writing was done before I sat down. Half of the novel, and maybe more I lost.
The rest of the first week was creating an outline, a glow in the dark skeleton, if you like. I’m not the kind to write a novel in my head before I write it down, though I’ve done that by accident or foolishness once or twice.
Heading into the second week, it’s a solid start on what will be a solid novel.
Hell, I don’t know. That’s not up to a writer to decide — though I’ll put what I can into it.
One thing I do know — that book wrote itself in my sleep, just like I’d planned.
Get after it, try the idea on for size.
If a bum like me can get inspired, you may wake someday holding a straight flush.
Be sure to write it down.