Sometimes the intro point to a book is the first scene. Sometimes it’s the last scene.
I was taking a shower one day and pictured Will standing on Hugh’s doorstep. In that case the intro point was somewhere in the beginning, but not the first scene. (Though Will had been kicking around a long time by then. The true entry point to Catalysts is more properly a story I wrote about the Derrie cousins–all of them–plus Lisa and Singer Thurman all trapped on a cruise ship together.)
A few weeks ago I was sitting in a park and a teenage boy skateboarded over to a basketball court. My friend and I watched as he took off his helmet and ran some kind of gel through his hair. Then he pulled out a basketball and started shooting hoops.
“He’s waiting for someone,” I said. “Watch.”
The person he was waiting for was another young man. And yes, of course I queered them (hair gel, remember), but far more importantly, that scene gave me a scene for the roller derby YA that I’ve never actually finished outlining. I know that kid. His name is Roberto. I wrote a whole book in which he was the MC’s best friend–with a secret. I never wrote the book where he came out, and I’ve always wanted to.
I’m playing with the gym stories right now. They are the playground for my mind under duress. Last time I wrote them this consistently was when I got laid off from my job. Never in my life have I written that feverishly, putting aside The Real Life Build to purge my demons, 70k in ten days. Now that I’m writing that, it’s probably what allowed TRLB to be a happy book; I’d burned out all my darkness writing Mac.
Now there is darkness again, and even first person Hugh didn’t free me from it, so here we are.
The entry point to the gym stories is a thread I’m nowhere close to writing. It’s Mac maybe…five years in the future. Something like that. And the Professor. And Coach. And some new folks. And I knew this older Mac a lot better, in the beginning, than I knew his younger self (the one those of you reading the stories in Ripper’s Irregulars know).
These stories have been a gift of my brain, a sweet little present I’ve been permitted to uncover as I go, and to feel, to be unravelled by. Not an easy gift, either. Some stories are, really. Not easy, but simple, uncomplicated. They arrive, and I write them, and I struggle with them, and I put them to rest.
Some stories…have thorns. The gym stories mark me with their thorns, but the release of writing them is very high, very pure.
I’m going back to it now.