Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve been juggling projects – like crystal wine glasses in front of a hushed audience – for the last few months. I work on one, light movements, light hands, before releasing it back into the air and catching the next. And it’s worked pretty well, I’ve been making progress on the two new novels, re-writing the book for grownups, tearing apart Jack and putting him back together. Each one presents its own challenges, it’s own rewards, so none of them ever knocked into one another.
I was a thousand words into my quota when I realized that my main character was having a perfectly fascinating conversation with two characters that have nothing to do with her book whatsoever. My characters are mixing. They are violating the borders of the worlds I have created, and I, for one, won’t have it. Last night, I had a dream that Jack rode a dragon, while chasing a jeweled bird that remained ever out of reach.
Bad form, Jack, said I. There are no dragons in your book. No firebirds either.
I’m bored of my book, Jack said. You didn’t put dragons in it on purpose.
Maybe, I said, but you have to admit, there aren’t many dragons in Iowa. Besides, I’m in charge here. You’ll do as you’re told.
He blew a rasberry at me and kept on going.
Come back here this instant! I called after him. I’ll let the firebird attack you and then you’ll be sorry! I’ll chase you with shape shifting dog-men and send you to another dimension with my reality-bending high school. I’ll send ghosts to haunt your dreams and pester you with really annoying ninth graders. I’ll read your diary and steal your grandmother and chase you down with an assistant principal who wants nothing better than to put you on his list.
But Jack had flown away. Perhaps this is what happens to our characters when the book is done. We birth them, care for them, worry after them and provide for them, and then they fly away. Maybe Jack doesn’t belong to me anymore.
I’m not so sure I’m all right with this arrangement.