Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Impressions

Today at the Between The Lines blog, agent Wendy Lawton posed a question. What’s the best part of your job as a writer? I left a comment:
One of the best moments for me is early in a project, that moment when a character first speaks to me, and I hear her voice so clearly, and it feels like I’m simply taking dictation. It can happen anytime, anywhere. I just better be prepared (lipstick and a napkin will do in a pinch). Any time in the writing process when this happens is good, but that first time is exhilarating. I tend to walk about looking dazed for a while, afterward.
This happened to me most recently shortly before my trip east. The main character of the book I'm currently plotting suddenly started speaking to me, so I quick opened a new file and started typying... listening... typing. I was surprised to learn a few things about her I hadn't yet known, and a few things about the plot. I love when that happens. It makes me feel like the story already exists, full and complete in some dimension I can just see from the corner of my eye.

Here it is. It's a bit choppy, with one blank spot. Perhaps it's a prologue. Maybe it's just for me and will never appear in the book. But I think it will.
I remember the borders of our land. [describe landmarks: standing stone, lake, islet, big tree]

I have been gone from those hills for half the moons of my life. What I have seen and what I have done, it has changed me. I do not recognize these sun-browned arms, these sturdy hands, these legs that stride mountains and do not tire, and stand me taller than most men.

I am the place two rivers merge, silted with upheaval and loss. No more what I was, but neither what they sought to make me. Yet memory of our land is a clear stream. I shall know it as once I knew the faces of my children. I will walk its borders; I will search its ground for what was taken, and what I left behind. It may be I will find me there.

If the land remembers.
From The Quiet In The Land [working title] Copyright 2009 by Lori Benton


  1. That happened to me the other day...suddenly something happened and my character was going a direction that I never imagined and I was just following behind taking notes. I kept telling them to slow down...I couldn't type that fast! It was wonderful.

    I love what you wrote...I felt that I was standing there with her. I felt that way when I moved back to my birthplace after being gone for 20 years. You got that moment head on.

  2. Cool. :-) And very exciting!

  3. Deborah, Thanks. And I'm glad to hear that happens to you too!

    Doree, it is. Such possibilities, here at the beginning. Why, anything at all could happen!

  4. I think good writing conjures up images and memories of other experiences and books. This little pieced did that for me, esp the last line, "If the land remembers." It took me to a number of the Louis Lamour books I read after I left graduate school. I had read so many heavy books (theology, philosophy, history) that I was ready for something simplier, like the Lamour westerns. He wrote frequently about the land, like it was a mysterious friend. He wrote about how people came and went, but the land remained. Think I want to dig some of those old books out!

    Good job.

  5. Warren,

    Thank you! I've read a few L'Amour books, but my favorite of his wasn't a western. Have you read Last of the Breed? About the Native American pilot shot down in Siberia, who has to survive off the land and elude recapture. I need to read that again soon.

  6. Good book. Read it years ago but forgot about it. Don't even know where my copy is now, but you've made me want to read it again.