The date was June 23, 2013. It started out like any other Sunday. The plan was to get back to work on my next novel. The story outline and character development complete, it was time to sit down and churn out the first draft. Just as soon as I finished my cup of tea and caught up on Facebook.
I saw Brian Froud’s name in my newsfeed and read his post.
“The Henson Company is looking for the writer of a new novel set in the land of the Dark Crystal. Visit darkcrystal.com for details on the contest.”
I had to read it a few times to be sure that I wasn’t mistaken. I went to the website and still found it impossible to wrap my head around what was happening. I was completely overwhelmed and cried for about an hour because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Then I read it a few more times, sure that there was some sort of mistake. It HAD to be a mistake. This sort of thing just didn’t happen. Did it?
“From October 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013, The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap of the Penguin Young Readers Group will be accepting writing submissions to find the author for a new novel set in the world of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. This author search is open to all professional and aspiring professional writers.”
Every bit of logic and reason took leave of me. I found myself walking at a brisk pace from the living room to the kitchen, through the front entryway and back. Again and again, I circled. I was unable to completely process this revelation and yet the wheels had slowly started to turn.
Finally something clicked and I was off to the races. I jumped in the shower, convinced that I could not possibly start without a new binder, some paper, those divider things with the plastic tabs on the side, some paper, and a new pen. No! A BAG OF NEW PENS! So I would head out to Staples, stock up and then get to work.
As it happens, I get a lot of my best ideas in the shower. Some think that it’s because you are not distracted and can let your mind wander. Others say that water cleanses not only the body but the mind. Clears out the clutter so that all the good stuff can come through.
Rushing out of the shower, my mind bursting, I wrapped myself in a robe and my dripping hair in a towel. Bolting down the hallway to my office, I was grateful that I took the time to organize it last fall ( yes, it was organized at one point ). Although it’s untidy I can still find what I am looking for. I don’t have time to go to Staples. I need to start writing NOW. I have a binder I am not using and look, it’s full of paper! Pens pens pens penspenspenspenspens where are my pens? Ah, yes. There’s a mason jar full of pens on my desk.
My desk! Part of me wants to just clear everything off like they do in the movies, but in the movies they don’t have breakable gifts sitting on tables that they’re going to wipe clean with one sweeping motion of their arm. At least, I don’t think they do. I grab the binder and the pens, run back down the hall and into the kitchen.
No dice. Too much clutter and I don’t have it within myself to spend the time tidying so that I can get to work. My mind is going a mile a minute and if I don’t get everything written down RIGHT NOW, it’s going to disappear into the creative ether. To the living room! I grab a TV tray and a folding table, set them up in front of the couch.
NAMES! The characters need names! So it’s back to my office to grab the Rubbermaid tub labeled “Research material for character names”. It contains 3 name books and several lists of Irish, Scottish, Celtic, Gaelic, and Welsh names collected from websites. Several hours later, I had a basic story outline rattling around in my head and almost 2 dozen characters starting to form.
Fast forward 2 months and my new binder (yes, I went to Staples the next day and bought one specifically for this project) filled with over 60 pages of notes and counting. This is turning into the most frightening, overwhelming, anxiety-inducing, exciting, joy-filled, tearful, squeal-worthy, and surreal thing I will ever be part of. Which tells me I am EXACTLY where I need to be.