A couple of autumns ago, I began drafting a new novel. It’s a story, in part, about a girl and her book. In the story, the book is a manuscript, a sort of collective journal written in by the other women who have held her position. The entries stretch back into the past, chronicling a long history of triumphs and losses.
When I sat down to write the novel, I realized I couldn’t start until I knew what was in the main character’s book. The book is so integral to the plot that I needed to know exactly what was in it. So I wrote that book, and then drafted the novel.
I’ve spent the last couple of years focusing on revisions, getting another novel ready to submit to agents. After a long round of queries and submissions, I needed a break from the work of revision.
Like many writers, I find it helpful–even necessary–to have creative outlets beyond writing. Things I dabble in, where the stakes aren’t as high. The manuscript~The Book of Vessels~has become that outlet for me. I’m in the first stage of crafting the manuscript, in the style of a medieval one, with different scripts for different scribes, and illuminations that comment on the text. I’m about a third of the way through this initial process. The next step will be to bind it. Afterwards, my plan is to go back through the manuscript and add marginalia and glosses from the perspectives of some of the later contributing characters commenting on the words of their predecessors. Finally, I want to distress the heck out of this beast, to make it look and feel ancient.
It’s a bit unwieldy, and kind of exciting. It’s good to switch gears, to do something more visual than my usual writing work. I’m figuring it out as I go, learning about scripts and binding techniques, and enjoying stepping outside my comfort zone. There’s something very Zen about falling into a script for a while, letting its curves and lines smooth out the wrinkles in my thoughts.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with this thing. Someone asked me recently, and I didn’t know what to say. This is a passion project, something to create for the sheer pleasure of the creation.
What would you create if there were no stakes, no expectations?