The Language of (writing) bees
The first draft of The Language of Bees is drawing to a close, with all the main characters and events converging on a (more or less literal) race to the finish line. As I wrote Touchstone, I found it very tough to write past a gap. That is, as I was writing, or even rewriting, something in chapter five, say, I would realize that I would need to change the setup in chapter two. And knowing that I had a gap back there, I couldnâ€™t deal with what I had without going back to chapter two and fixing that. And then printing it off so I could see what I had.
This makes for an appalling amount of paper. I cringe to think of how many reams of paper I used up in the processâ€”in fact, I couldnâ€™t bear to look at the mountain, so I packed one entire grocery bag off to the recyclersâ€™ rather than stick it next to the printer to print on the back side, which is what I usually do. And I still have a mountain, waiting to be re-used on the reverse.
This time, Iâ€™m back to my usual PostIt method, where I make a note on one of my big square lined PostIts about adding a clue or defining a character more clearly or changing a sequence of events, and stick it in place for the rewrite.
Iâ€™m thinking it has more to do with the circumstances in which I wrote Touchstone than with any differences in the book itself. Granted, Touchtone is a complex story and it was tricky to keep everything in mind, but itâ€™s more likely that, writing it while my husband was in and out of hospitals, I just had less mental flexibility to wrap around the story. And although heâ€™s still ill, the brain just doesnâ€™t maintain a panic mode after two years. The Language of Bees is not only familiar territory (Russell and Holmes back in England) but itâ€™s a familiar style of writing for me as well.
With nowhere near the amount of guilt at cutting down a forest for one manuscript.