"How do you know when you are finished with a piece of writing?"—Evie, age 10 Evie, you've asked a stumper. I wish I had a clear, concrete ... Read More
My creative engine is a stubborn thing. Much like my poor motorcycle (Mr. Miyagi), if it sits too long, going unused and ignored, it takes a significant investment of work to get it back into shape. In Mr. Miyagi’s case, he needed a new battery and a lot of elbow grease. My writing muscle, however, needed me to plant my butt in a chair and crank the gears by hand for a while. And let me tell you, when the gears are rusty, they don’t like to be cranked.
Thankfully, things are running smoothly now. I’m hitting and exceeding my writing goals almost everyday and Fiddler’s Green is a real joy to be writing. In an earlier post I wrote this of the writing of the book:
“The road ahead leads through some dark and beautiful country and the miles may leave my feet blistered and swollen. Wish me well; Fin’s gone far astray and I’m anxious to bring her home.“
I’m in that dark country now. In the last couple of days of writing, the frustration and heartbreak of some of my characters has moved me in profound ways. I tweeted that I cried when I wrote a particular chapter and I confess that’s no joke. I turned into a sniffling mess in the back corner of my Blue Coast Burrito workspace and I’m sure a few strangers walking by must have thought I had lost my mother or, worse, my sanity.
This is something I suspect might be difficult for people to comprehend. I freely admit it’s a strange thing, this intense personal relationship an author feels for his creation. But from where I sit in front of my keyboard, creating the lives and the world that these, my characters, inhabit, it’s a precious and intimate view. I’ve created them, given them lives and hopes and ambitions, and then I find I’ve put them through hell. I’ve orphaned them, widowed them, tortured and killed them and, worse, I know that I have further horrors yet in store. I make them cry and wail and curse the day they were born and on days when I write these scenes I find that sometimes I have to defend myself against them. Why? Why these terrible things? they ask. And though they can’t possibly understand, my answer is this: I know how it all ends and just wait, just wait. I’ve seen the final scene and it’s worth all I’ve put you through.
What a rich communion then to create and know that I am myself created.
At times, when asked if I’m going to attend church on Sunday morning, I’ve declined with the excuse that I have writing to do. I’ve even claimed (usually to rolled eyes) that I believe writing can be a form of worship itself. When I can draw near enough to my own created world and see through it into the mind of the greater Author, I’m stricken and awed. I’m broken open because I too lie awake at night, and I curse the day I was born, and I struggle and cry and wonder how long, how long, Oh Lord, will these things go on. And by writing and descending into the lives of my paper creations, I hear the Author calling back to me, “Just wait, just wait.”
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.