Write your blog! Go to the pharmacy! Write your Newswithviews! Finished? Good–now get busy on your book!
Man, I don’t think that I can do that…
I am exceedingly tired. Oh, to be sixty again. They tell me Behold! (Bell Mountain No. 14) is at the printer’s now but being held up by “supply chain issues.” It’s not like there’s any urgency about finishing Ozias, Prince in Peril; but I would like to get it done and have some time off before I start writing the next book.
I’m so tempted to let go this afternoon and have another cigar.
When I sit down to work on a novel, it’s usually with no preconceptions for that day. I start with a prayer asking the Lord to give me the story and to help me tell it. There’s much to be said for mapping out everything in advance; but I don’t do it that way.
I reckoned I needed, oh, five more chapters to finish Ozias, Prince in Peril; but I didn’t know how to end the book. I had only the faintest wisps of an idea for that. And I needed someone to perform the climactic act.
That would be Chapter Set No. 7. Bowing to the cold weather, I stepped back from No. 7 and thought I’d better type up, edit, and polish sets 5 and 6.
So there I am, typing up the first chapter of the 5th set–and bam! I run smack-dab into the very man I need to shape the climax and carry it out. There he was, written up two months ago, just waiting for me to call on him.
What was he doing in the book, in the first place? Well, he was a very minor character and I was using him as an observer, so that the reader could see things that he sees. An old duke whose battling days are far behind him. He’s in a kind of wheelchair.
And he’s just perfect for the part that it turns out I need him to play!
I mean, how cool is that? How does that even happen? I create these minor characters and the next thing I know, I’m giving them big jobs. They’re not so minor, after all.
It’s one of those things that makes my books fun to write. I hope they’re just as much fun to read.
We had frost last night, but the sun came out today so I was out there again, plugging away at writing Ozias, Prince in Peril. Let no one tell you writing novels is an easy job: my father used to call it “the life of Riley.” I got pretty sick of Mr. Riley after a time.
Maybe it was as high as 50 degrees, although I doubt it. In my novel, winter’s just about over and spring is coming. If only! Meanwhile the villains are trying to hunt down Prince Ozias–now king by right, but the Bad Guys hold the palace and the city–and haul Queen Parella out of Lintum Forest, spy-mistress Gwenlann is trying to stop them… and after writing three pages, I was ready to go back to bed with all the covers over me. But this is my calling and I have to do my best.
Some of my friends wonder why I continue to write outdoors when I could just stay inside and do it. My reasons are these: trees, wildflowers, sky, clouds, birds, bees, squirrels, and being able to smoke my cigar without stinking up our dining area. Plus no phone calls.
Derek Jacobi in the title role
You know, it’s amazing the way things somehow work out without your having planned them that way. I think we can attribute that to God’s providence.
Trying to finish writing Ozias, Prince in Peril before the cold weather sets in, I hit another snag in the story and didn’t know how to proceed. At the same time, my wife and I bought I, Claudius, the award-winning series that tells the story of the Roman emperor who tried to restore the Republic.
Voila! Inspiration! I, Claudius was just what I needed to move me along within the story I was telling.
Not that I copy from it, mind you–it doesn’t work that way. But the shenanigans and machinations of Rome’s imperial family–which are, after all, history–shed light on the situation in my fantasy kingdom of Obann. This is not easy to explain. Once upon a time, writers called it “following the muse.”
Inspiration comes from many sources. Shakespeare’s Richard III, for instance, often reminds me of our own day’s politics. Certainly I, Claudius does. We used to laugh at it, when it came out in the 1970s. But in 2022 it’s a little bit too close for comfort. Not so funny anymore.
Anyway, I’m out of the snag and back in action.
I had fun writing this today!
Ozias, still a boy, has emerged from Lintum Forest with a band of 21 picked men. Their mission is to elude Maressa the usurper’s forces while proving to the people of Obann that they have a rightful king.
My model for this chapter was 2 Samuel 23: 8-38, the roster of King David’s “mighty men of valor.” (Thanks to Heidi for suggesting this, back in the summer.) Two of Ozias’ mighty men, brothers, are clever thieves who once stole a comrade’s shadow (but gave it back, once they’d shown that they could do it). But it would spoil the fun to list them all here.
I’m racing the seasons again, trying to finish Ozias, Prince in Peril before winter sets in. As yet I have no idea where or how to bring this story to a close. All I know is that Ozias will have to grow to young manhood before I launch the second book, Ozias, Prince Enthroned. The villains I’ve created–or, let me say, that God gave me–will not easily be parted from their power.
But at least the people of Obann won’t have to rely on an election.
It’s sunny out today, finally, and not too cold. I can get back to my book, with wildflowers, bees, squirrels and birds, for company.
But first I had a hymn request, the fruit of many friendships that have sprung up around this blog. And as I listened to Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, the thought came to me, “How good is this? Sunshine, work that I delight in doing, hearing from friends, and lamb shanks for supper tonight… What more could I ask for?”
We need such thoughts. And God provides them. The day’s nooze fades into the background: respite. Peace.
In a scene I wrote today, Ozias found himself in a potentially dangerous situation. He comforted himself with this thought: “Trust in God, and take the adventure which has fallen to me.”
Is there any other counsel that we need?
It’s sunny out today, but with a cold wind: I froze my onions off, working outside to write the latest chapter of Ozias, Prince in Peril. Still a boy, Ozias will have to grow up fast, what with the villains combing Lintum Forest for him, looking to take him out. I don’t know if I’ll have enough good weather to finish the book this year, but I promise you I’ll try as hard as I can.
I think the book is going very well. The story keeps surprising me. I know I don’t have to secure Ozias’ throne until the next book, but I don’t know how old he’ll be by the time that happens. I just count on the Lord to give me the story… which He already knows.