Today I awoke at 5:30 AM. A ridiculous hour. Light was coming into the windows of my hotel room in Le Manoir at Epinal, but there was little sound of traffic or even birdsong. I knew it was foolish to be awake. I have a long day ahead of me at Imaginales. A breakfast with readers, a panel discussion on The Price of Magic (Pratiquer la magie . . .et en payer le prix?). There will be many (I hope) books to sign for readers, and cups of tea and talk to share, and in the evening a late (for me) dinner with the other guests and the officials of Imaginales. I needed more sleep. It was stupid of me to be awake.
Sleep would not come back to me.
So I stayed in my very comfortable bed and pondered a few of my favorite philosophical riddles. When I still could not solve any of them, my thoughts wandered to Fitz and the Fool, and a knot in my writing that has been very stubborn since I began writing this trilogy.
There will be no spoilers here. Only the acknowledgement that since the beginning, there has been a wide crevasse in my plot. I knew the path that led to it. On the other side, I could see the trail to the end of the book. As I have been writing toward that crevasse, my words have come slower and slower. I’ve imagined bridges, wild leaps, rope swings and air ships (metaphorically speaking of course) that would allow my characters to cross. All of my devices for getting my characters across have been flimsy contraptions, badly built. I would set them in place and pretend that when I reached that point, they would bear the weight of the story. But I knew that the moment Fitz or the Fool set foot on any of them, they would break into fragments of Deux Ex Machina and tumble into the void.
This morning, for no reason, I suddenly saw the bridge. Gleaming like silver, stronger that steel, more delicate than a spider’s web and just as elegantly engineered. There it was. It spanned the gap perfectly, and suddenly I could see that all the supportinc cables were there, all the structures that tied back to events in Assassin’s Apprentice and The Rain Wild Chronicles and The Liveship Traders. It was all there and always had been there. It was not as if I created something new in my mind. Rather it was like remembering a trail I’d once traveled and then forgotten.
So. There it is. The shining bridge. It awaits us, and all I want to do this morning is open my writing files and let my characters journey toward it.
But. Imaginales! Good friends, good conversation, good food. Books to sign, readers to meet.
And the gleaming silver bridge, glittering in the back of my mind all day . . .
If I see you today and don’t recognize you, if I can’t seem to keep my mind on our conversation, if I attempt to introduce you to Office Kat and suddenly cannot recall her name, or yours, or even mine . . . Well, I will probably pretend to you that it’s jet lag. But the truth is, I’m not going to be at Imagnales today. Not all of me, anyway. I know I should apologize for that.
But I can’t. There is the bridge, and with every passing moment, the bits of plot, the incidents, the conversations, even the obstacles are falling neatly into place. I can’t stop thinking about it. I want to take out my notebook and jot down bits of dialogue.
It fits. It fits perfectly.
Imaginales, as much as I love you. I am journeying through the Realm of the Elderlings today instead of walking the riverbank and the streets of Epinal.