Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's a Bird! Or Maybe It's a Plane. Or is it Superman?

by Jennifer Archer

So . . .  I'm reading through my current novel-in-progress (which I plan to self-publish as an ebook, by the way -- see Jordan Dane's post here) and I notice that birds play a huge part in the story. I mention birds A LOT. One of the characters even has the nickname "Chick." Plus, there are many gardening references. And the thing is...I didn't do this intentionally. Obviously some hidden themes are struggling to emerge in this book. What is the deal with the birds and the gardening? Are those birds really birds? Or do they symbolize something else? Freedom, perhaps? Loyalty -- because although birds migrate, they always return? Honesty and truth? Maybe.

A Bible verse in Ecclesiastes says: "Curse not the king, no, not in thy thoughts; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber; a little bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter."

Hmmm...I wonder. Who is Chick, really? As for the gardening, do those flowers and vegetables sprouting up in scene after scene signify growth in my protagonist, Maggie? Are all those weeds she's suddenly desperate to pull really the clutter in her life she is finally ready to uproot and toss aside?

Or is this all a bunch of baloney? Maybe I've just been craving Popeye's fried chicken while working on this book and that's why I'm mentioning birds so often. And it could be that I've been subconsciously obsessing about gardening because my thumb is far from green, but I've been trying to beautify my backyard with flowers to celebrate spring.

Either way, I'll find out soon enough as the book comes together and begins to reveal its secrets -- what it's really all about. That's what I love about revising: Having the first draft -- that huge lump of clay I've been mixing -- complete. When it's ready, I can really begin experimenting with it, carving away what doesn't work and revealing the hidden surprises. Molding and smoothing until I find the true shape. That's when the story and people in it become completely real.

How about you? As you write, do you ever notice a theme or a symbol emerging in your story that you hadn't planned or expected? Do elements of your story reveal themselves to you gradually as you write? Or are you the sort of writer that has to have everything worked out before you put your pen to the page or your fingers on the keyboard?

On another subject -- My very first published novel BODY AND SOUL, a romantic comedy, was re-released in ebook format by Samhain Retro Romance on Monday. Check out the fabulous new cover on my blog and read all about it!


Jordan Dane said...

Congrats on your reissue, Jenny. Great cover. I'm so excited to hear of your gutsy decision to self-pub too. I really think it will be great for you.

Interesting post, too. I think you're fixated on a bucket of Popeye's & have been watching too much Diy & HGTV, but kudos to you for turning birds & flowers into a book. The mind is amazing.

Jennifer Archer said...

Thanks, Jordan! I'm excited about self-pubbing. You gave me the nudge I needed. :) Off to buy that Popeye's!

Amanda Stevens said...

Maybe you're channeling Hitchcock! He used birds as symbols of insanity and nature out of balance, didn't he? I'm not suggesting anything here, btw. ;)

Gardening = fertility?

Jennifer Archer said...

Hey, Amanda! Sorry so late to respond. I'm just now seeing your comment! Hey, I *like* the thought of channeling Hitchcock! His movies are favorites of mine!