Wednesday, September 12

Bird by Bird



My writer friend, Anne Stuart, often quotes Anne Lamott’s story about a time when her little brother was overwhelmed with a science project cataloguing birds that he’d put off. The night before it was due, he said to his father, “How will I ever get this all done?” His dad smiled and answered, “Bird by bird, Son, bird by bird.”

Words to live by—life is about to get really busy and I’m already overwhelmed. You see, we’re going to put our house—the one we’ve lived in for 35 years—up for sale. It’s a huge decision, one that’s been several years coming. I’m excited and ready for this, but I’m also looking at everything that needs to be done and wondering how we’ll ever accomplish it. We will, I know we will, because we must, but here, now at the beginning days, I’m cringing. But...bird by bird.

And yes, I can tie this in to writing because doesn’t everything come back to writing anyway? I’m not just looking at moving, but I’ve also got three more books to write in the Four Irish Brothers Winery series in the next eighteen months or so. I think the bird-by-bird applies here, too. Conor’s story is done and will be released on October 29. I’ll have lots of promo to do and blogs to visit and posts to write for that launch, but I also need to be working on the next book. What I don’t need to do is clutter my mind with the other two brothers’ stories.

I can’t tell you how much easier it was to begin Conor and Sam’s story when I stopped trying to sort out all four brothers’ stories in one go. Bird by bird . . . or in this case, brother by brother. I’m a pantser, so bird by bird is the only way this will work for me. The other brothers will necessarily appear in the second book just as they did in the first one—they must or this won’t be a series about four brothers. But it needs to happen naturally in this one, too, or the whole thing’s going to be a contrived mess that I’ll never dig out from.

I’m about 12K words into Sean’s story now and I know where I want it to go—we just need to get there. To that end, I’m back to my old standby of a writing method—getting up early in the morning and writing before Husband wakes up, before I check social media or email, before coffee even. That worked for A SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS. I’m counting on it working here as I write this second book. Bird by bird.

Not sure, where I was going with this, so I’ll end on a question: Are you a story planner? Or do you just sit down and start writing? And if you’re writing a series, are all your character already formed when you start or do they develop as you write?

In the meantime, remember, mes amies, hold your face to the sun, be grateful in all things, and love well.

Nan


7 comments:

  1. I have to plan--some--or I'll never get a story. My never-good imagination has shrunken with age, so I have to have some prior stuff going on. However, bird-by-bird is the way of everything, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty much everything, Liz! I have the big picture in my head, but each story is a focus thing.

      Delete
  2. I like to plan, but I also like to pants...so I got in with a plan and the understand that if I need to flip things around I can do that! Good luck with the move, Nan, and I can't wait to read the first 4Irishbrothers book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a reader--it's her best yet.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Kristi--glad you're anxious to read it! And merci, Liz, for being a reader and for believing it's the best one yet. Sure hope readers agree! Hugs to you both!

      Delete
  3. I'm like Kristi - I need to plan before I start writing, but once the writing starts, I give myself permission to veer off course (a little) if the characters take me somewhere better. It always happens to a certain extent.

    About moving: twenty-five years ago I was a master at it. At one point we moved four times in ten years. I got to the point where I could pitch stuff out without mercy. And honestly, in all those moves (and some that came before that) there is only one thing I regret tossing out. And I don't even regret it that much. So, as you go through thirty-five years of stuff, don't let yourself get bogged down in memories. It's just stuff; you'll always have your memories. Good luck with everything!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm mostly a panster, but I have a tiny bit of plot worked out

    denise

    ReplyDelete