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Writing historical fiction: sometime journal of a New York City novelist

the earliest stages of writing a novel

This is a beautiful time, a half-waking dream. I just scribble on my file, my fingers drifting over the keys, taking notes for half formed ideas, glimpsing the back of a female character as she walks in her long skirts down a path. I scribble a half idea for a scene of the first meeting of lovers. It is like the first flowers in spring...a few here and there. I realized again a few days ago that this is where all the writing comes from and that I have to go there frequently and drift among ideas, some of which will grow themselves or stay half formed or become part of other novels. Yes, I am like a child wandering in gardens with no place I have to be at any particular time.

(I think in one draft of CLAUDE & CAMILLE I had Claude's memory of being a very little naked boy in his mother's garden, hiding behind the tall flowers, and she finds him and lifts him up. It may have been one of the many things that did not quite fit but now, looking back, if I cut it I am sorry!)

Later on in novel writing there is pulling it altogether, dramatic flow, rising plot line and all the things necessary to bring this world to life in reader's minds. But it comes from those early scribblings, those half waking dreams when the novel itself is no more than a small child in a garden among flowers taller than himself, discovering worlds, hidden, secret, his grown-up self so far away that he cannot even consider it.

Back to my garden! Here's to your warm afternoons in your own!
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