Hello my friends, I’ve been working on a novel for tweens for awhile now. Sometimes when I’m writing it, I get so filled with joy that I feel like I’m not even typing. No, I’m standing on my laptop playing powerchords. And sometimes I feel completely clueless
which, I’ve discovered, is also fantastic. When that happens, I begin asking myself questions and then I get back answers that I would never have come up with had I not had the chance to ask the question. That feels like magic.
Here is a tiny excerpt from my novel with the working title: “Writing Charlie”.
Charlie woke up and pulled the scratchy cape up around his chin for warmth, but then his feet stuck out the other end. His toes were freezing. The thick blanket of stars covering the entire sky was of no use to him here on the ground. Rivers, currents, streams of stars. More stars than he’d ever thought possible. Could there be more stars in this place than in his own? There were more trees, creeks, rocks, rivers, animals and weird creatures for sure, but wasn’t that because no one had paved away their habitat? But stars? We couldn’t have pulled stars from the sky, could we?
Charlie’s 5th grade teacher, Mr. Gebhart, had said that all metal comes from bits of exploding stars fallen to earth and buried over thousands and even millions of years. That was why we had to mine it out of the ground, he’d said. The 10 year-old Charlie had tried at the time to imagine his mom’s battered Honda minivan as a star. It had been hard to do.
Charlie had fallen asleep on his class planetarium field trip pretty much as soon as the guide turned off the lights and started babbling on about the supernovas and lightyears and blah blah blah. Charlie wished he could remember some of that information now, it seemed more important here than it did there. Hadn’t Mr. Gebhart said that all humans and animals were actually made out of stardust too? “Even you, Charlie.” Mr. Gebhart had startled him awake in the turned-down-lights-darkness under the fake dome of stars at the planetarium, embarrassing him in front of his whole class.
Charlie pulled his hands out from under his cape and turned them in the moonlight, looking for signs of starness. Nope. Niamh, Sar, they were much easier to imagine as stardust. Himself, not so much. He curled up as best he could under the cape, both mind and body exhausted, and fell asleep, the light of stars from a thousand years gone-by shining upon him, recognizing themselves in his face.
Niahm, Sar and Charlie, with Travis in tow, hiked all day. Charlie had never walked so far in his life. Niahm lead the way, consulting Sar from time to time, through opulent forests filled with a thousand birdsongs, fording streams filled with fish, and out into clearings where the sun hit Charlie in the eye like a spotlight. Cicadas buzzed their deep summer song in the high meadow grasses and butterflies and bees swooped in every direction. And as they walked, Charlie’s mind finally woke up to the fact that he was truly, deeply, lost.
He had been lost many times before while traveling from town to town, or really gig to gig, with his mom for her performances. Sometimes they’d miss their exit and Charlie, even at age eight, could look at the map and, together with his mom, they’d figure out where they’d gone wrong. These “adventures” were just part of the whole experience.
But this, this was different. This was like someone had stolen the magnet out of his compass. Charlie didn’t know which way to turn.
“Charlie, watch out!” Niamh shouted, but it was too late. The next thing Charlie knew he was tumbling into a ravine.
The April Eight Songs & Stories Podcast Season II Launches next week! I can’t wait. If you haven’t heard all the stories from Season I, well, I’m told by my hilariously enthusiastic young fans (and their relieved parents) that they are worth a listen. More on the Jemi Series here, the Butterfly Adventure Series here, The Old Man and the Seagull here, and the mash-up fun Finale story here. Listen in and get ready to giggle!
And if you want to know what I’m cooking up for my kid’s lunches this week, check this out.
Anyone else out there writing a novel? What is your process? Do you have any ideas or habits you’d like to share with us? If you have a thought for my friend Charlie, let me know. I’m curious what hear you think.