I’m happy to be confronting the first chapter of the novel. In the past, I’ve written 10,000 words or thereabouts, developing the prologue and other chapters. However, each time I began I quickly became overwhelmed as I realized the complexity of the storyline, and instead moving forward I sought refuge in the seductive realm of research.
The Marble Elephant Axiom
This time is different though. I’ve envisioned a beginning I can believe in and the writing process is enlightening. Ironically, I’m not sure this chapter will ever be published but I’m certain that the writing is essential. For one thing, the process transformed my sense of being overwhelmed to an understanding of the project’s scope.
I’m reminded of the “How do you create a marble statue of an elephant?” axiom.
The master says, “Creating a statue of an elephant is a simple process. First, you get a block of marble. Next, you chisel away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant!”
That is exactly how this project feels. Here’s the difference though, some of the pieces I chisel off are set aside for use in other chapters. I don’t know where those pieces will show up, but I know they will be needed. The problem with this method of writing is keeping track of all those pieces. Nonetheless, I’m very comfortable with this process, but I suspect it would be too chaotic for results oriented writers.
What Are Epic Proportions?
It’s not that I didn’t realize that this was an epic story before I began writing, but the epic proportions were conceptual only, nebulous and meaningless in a practical sense. Now, I’m beginning to see how all the elements of the story draw from the vast reservoir of research.
This morning I took a quick look at some stats related to the research. There is 840+MB of data held in 1,701 files and organized into 326 folders. I also have 280+MB of data in a Microsoft OneNote document. In addition, many books I’ve used for research are loaded into my iPad, about 430MB. And when you take all the sources, there’s much more.
As I’ve written drafts and done research I’ve rearranged my work documents many times. In every sense of the phrase, this project has been a learning experience.
My Epic Failure
Now that I’m primarily focused on writing, albeit chunks of a marble pile, I’m relieved to accept that I’m heading toward an Epic Failure. My guess is that most people would be upset if they felt they were heading toward a failure, much less an Epic Failure, but I’m not looking at this from that point of view.
I’m certain that the story I envisioned writing is far too complicated for me to complete in this lifetime. However, now that I’ve chiseled away some large chunks of the story, I’m optimistic that there are pieces that will merit developing into smaller and more manageable stories.
Naturally, I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to spew my vision out in a single burst of energy, but I haven’t given up hope that the smaller stories can pave a path that might lead to full development of a novel.
And that’s where things stand today.