Illustration by Todd Slater
There must be some kind of a divine force out there for writers. I have gotten to the point in my draft where the timing was wrong, and I didn’t know how to fix it. The train route my characters take requires an additional 12 hours of travel, and according to my scenes it’s too much, I must end the ride in order to continue the story according to the plot. And what do you know. I go research the route, and turns out I got it wrong! It’s too long. It’s the old route of the Moscow-Simferopol train that went around Ukraine back in the old Soviet times, and that was later replaced by a faster route that cut through Ukraine and took one day less to travel, but then at the end of Perestroika it was returned to the old route again, to avoid Ukraine and go around due to the conflict. TUBE is happening in 1989, and it's smack in the time when the last Moscow-Simferopol trains were going through Ukraine (I’m not entirely sure, as the sources don’t say the exact year when the route was changed, but it’s close enough), and so guess what that does? That cuts my route my about a day, so 12 hours are gone! Wow! I’ve got shivers here. Really, this is crazy. It’s like this book wants to happen. Like all those drafts I wrote and discarded before were not the right story, and this is the right one. It’s so right, it’s telling itself. It’s helping me. I’m speechless.
This kind of miraculous occurrence happens with every book. Perhaps it’s just the brain starting to see the right patterns and snatching out the right information from the universe, I don’t know. But I can tell you that once I’ve experienced it, I was hooked on it like on a drug. In that moment you feel like a god (or a goddess with a warm pig under her feet, in my case; a bear goddess, at that). Like you can command the universe. You can bend it to your will, and it will provide and do what you tell it. All that from just sitting on your ass all day, and typing and typing and typing. I tell you, it’s real. You’ve got to taste it. And if you’re still doubting yourself and haven’t started writing your book for some reason, I tell you, START NOW. These moments when you are in control are transcendent. They give you something you can never get in life: a sense of reality that is going according to order, to YOUR order. Life is chaos. Life is unpredictable. Life can kill you any moment. Or wreck you so much you wish you were dead. And here is your solution to all your problems.
Think back to the time when you read a book that took you out of time and place and delivered you ecstasy, that feeling of completeness. That’s what great fiction does. It gives us relief from the daily turbulence of the unknown. But to read it and to experience it as a reader is one thing, and to create it and be the master of it is another. It doesn’t compare. It’s a hundred times more intense. It’s like you’re deciding how to populate a brand new planet you just conjured out of nothing, and the species you come up with are in perfect harmony with one another, and you get a thrill out of being god. You feel divine.
That’s what writing is about. Man, I’m high on this feeling right now. My eyes are huge, like I’m a kid who has just seen a bear the size of a bus and has proudly realized that the bear was her creation and it fits in the order of the world because SHE SAID SO.