On Friday night at 11:30, I finished my personal revisions to The Field. That just means I’m finally happy with where the story is – I’m still cleaning up typos, grammar, and awkward phrasing. It also means I get to send it to my editing team, which I did this morning. They’ll help me pinpoint the weaknesses, and in a few weeks, I’ll either strengthen them or get rid of them altogether.
The Field ended up being 41,868 words, 73 chapters (plus a prologue and an epilogue), and 134 pages. I have to shake my head because it was never, I repeat never intended to be so comprehensive.
It started with a concept, someone talking about C.I.P.A., a medical condition where people have lost feeling. Hypothetically, according to the person talking about C.I.P.A., a person with this condition could walk across a field of glass and bleed to death, because they couldn’t feel the pain. Unless, a thought popped into my head, unless they looked down and realized they were bleeding. Anyway, this person’s point was that as a society we think it’s a good thing to not feel, but I was all concerned about these people walking across the field, dying, because they didn’t realize they were bleeding.
I wrote a blog post later that week talking about a form of spiritual C.I.P.A. and how when we engage in sin we can quench and grieve the Holy Spirit and his convicting ministry is curbed in our lives (especially as believers). We stop feeling sin and we become numb to its consequences and we end up dying spiritually. And I talked about standing on the edge of that “field of glass”, watching people cross over, and having been there myself, pleading with them about the disastrous consequences.
And I left it at that, but the concept had taken hold. About a year later, I wrote it all down as a short story about a group of field trespassers who face the consequences of that trespass. Less than six months after that, I decided I could develop the story and characters better, and that’s how The Field became what it is this morning.
A concept turns into a short story and a short story into a book. A group of people become specific characters with back stories. It’s honestly the kind of development that drives me crazy, and even though it’s the first time I’ve been successful finishing a book, I really don’t want to write this way ever again.
Which brings me to the wee hours of Saturday morning. I had just settled down from my finished-with-revisions high and was fixing to fall asleep, when a concept pops into my head. A mostly-asleep me thinks, “That would make an interesting short story.” I jump out of bed and scribble it down in my writing journal so that I don’t forget about it. I decide I will spend the next few days working on this short story for fun and return to the novel I’ve been trying to write for several years when I finish it. On Saturday afternoon, I sit down and start writing this short story for fun. Then it hits me: this isn’t just a short story. I mean, for the time being, that’s how I’m going to write it, but I’m not going to be satisfied with it just being a short story. It’s going to develop into more at some point.
Sorry, novel, you’re just going to have to wait until I figure out how to abbreviate you to a concept, and re-expand you into a short story and then back into a novel. At this moment, I have no idea how to do that, so I’m going with the idea that’s brewing in my mind, and I’ll come back to you later. Maybe.
It’s the craziest thing, but I’ve found my writing method.