A loooong time ago, I read this amazing book, The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon. It's this crazy story, about a woman, Oedipa Maas, who maybe gets involved in a giant conspiracy.
I read the book over 20 years ago, and it's left an indelible mark on my soul. It's at times funny, frightening, and sort of crazy making.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is something Oedipa says when she first begins to unearth this conspiracy. "Shall I project a world?"
That is, will she take these several disparate "facts" she's stumbled across, and knit them together into a cohesive narrative, use them to extrapolate and form something concrete, go from vague notion to some degree of certainty?
Spoiler alert, she does.
One of the reasons this quote has stuck with me for so long, and so strongly, is that it's a pretty spot on description of part of my writing process. When I begin to write about characters, I imagine them, gradually seeing more and more details of how they are, who they are, how they live. Often that means I learn things about their past, their family and friends, their living conditions. There's a huge amount that goes on "off screen" for my characters, that informs how they act, and the choices they make.
This morning I was working on a new Cam & Eileen story, "Kiss The Cook", for my patreon site. One of the things I realized was that I needed to know more about where they lived. I had this vague idea of about Eileen's place, overlooking Kerry Park, in Seattle. But today, I actually got online, and found the house itself.
I also found the small, affordable place Cam was living in too. Knowing the two homes helps me to know both the characters better, too.
I heard this thing once, someone said about being bipedal. Part of the definition of being a biped is having two feet, and using them to walk upon the ground. The ground a biped walks upon is as much a part of how they are defined, as the feet with which they walk upon it.
I just love this process, this discovery. It's a gourmet sort of pretending. These people, their lives, where and how they live are very, very real to me. I'm grateful for the experience of working with them.