|“The Alchemist” by Pieter Brueghel. This is what the inside|
my head looks like when I’m writing.
But if the thing isn’t fun, and readable, and a worthwhile story -- it will never be read. And that will mean, I now see, that sometimes the historical record will have to be monkeyed with. EVER SO SLIGHTLY! For instance, I just wrote a scene with a character in it who was from real life, and who did indeed visit Sempringham Manor, but who I know darn well was already dead in 1629, the year that this is taking place. He’s a minor character but an important one; and as he is both minor and important, he’s worth violating the historical canon for. But I couldn’t resist having him say to Anne, in response to her “how have you been:"
“Some say I should be in my grave, but I appear one more time at Sempringham.”
I am experiencing once again the alchemy of writing. Alchemy is science plus magic; that seems to be what creates my story. Things happen that I don’t anticipate to make the whole greater than the parts. For instance, I wanted to write about two old men in particular (both of them real people from the past), because I liked them and because they both had something slightly unusual and winsome about them that I wanted to capture. I don’t think I started with a Grand Plan for either of them, and if they ended up on the cutting room floor, so what. But now that I have them down, I see that they might both be Wise Men. They both have important things to say about the Puritan experiment, things that go past Puritanism and into other more foundational realms. But as a writer one can’t be heavy-handed with that sort of thing or else no one will buy it. Maybe I will find a way for them to say what they want to say that is not overpowering but is still deep enough to offer the shading I desire, to make this a three-dimensional story.
When I started with these two old men -- who knew they’d be so smart? Not me -- and I’m the Author! That’s the alchemy of writing, and it is ever a wonder to me.