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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Josephson

Please send jugs

I starting writing a novel.

When I was sick with pneumonia a few/several weeks ago, I just starting typing, and now I'm about 30 pages in and I think its going well. Or maybe it's still the delirium from the sickness. I know this story wants to be a novel and not a play because the scope is enormous, and it's not a screenplay because there's too much intracity in the nuances of how this world is different from ours - it's a fantasy book by the way, teetering between YA and A, theoretically I should have made that call by now, hmm. Maybe it'll be a movie someday, then all of those hard-fought, deeply thoughtful details can be scrapped for the sake of, whatever, expediency. Yet the details for Lord of the Rings and the new Dune made those movies great, but so it goes. Tomorrow's problems tomorrow, first I need to finish this book. Or maybe three books.

I started writing between one and three novels and it's freaking me out.

I set out to write a book in the vein of a story that I've had in my head for close to 20 years, but before I could write that book I needed to establish the world that lead to where that story would exist. So that's where I started, the End of the Third Age, and the book I really wanted to write would take place a few hundred years later. And that was going fine. And I gave Katy a few pages to read and she was really positive, which is grand, so I kept going. But three chapters in I realized... we really needed to know what happened in the First Age to know how we got to the end of the Third Age. And what about the Second Age? No idea what happens in the Second Age, though I know how it ends. I'm writing four novels, two of which I don't know much about at all, and it's terrifying.

Especially because I don't know how to write a novel, never done it before, nothing even close.

Yes, I've written 60+ plays, almost all of which have been produced, near-two-dozen of which are published, but WRITING A PLAY AND WRITING A NOVEL HAVE, LIKE, NOTHING TO DO WITH ONE ANOTHER.

When I write plays, I generally have an idea or a concept or at least a title, and I carry that around with me for a little while. When I'm ready I leave the house and wander into the desert of my storytelling brain and then generally speaking, I find the pitcher of water that I'm looking for that's the right size and shape and color for whatever I'm trying to do - a small pitcher for a 10-minute play, a large jug for a long play. And whatever it is that I find, the pages flow out like water from that jug, flow, flow, flow, all the way through to the end. Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes several weeks, but the pages flow. I spill some, sometimes I need to seek out some backup water, but generally speaking, after not that much wandering I find my jug and the pages flow like water into a first draft. There are always exceptions - These Violent Delights, my Shakespearian mashup, rhyming couplet, soft iambic pentameter play did NOT flow like water, though the story did. I knew every scene and character very quickly which propelled me through the arduousness of my self-inflicted approach to the dialog for the play.

So this novel thing. When I started, when I first entered the desert and I found my jug, and it flowed. It flowed for page after page, it flowed chapter one, chapter two, chapter three. And then the jug was empty and I had something I was proud of, a good start.

But where's the rest?

My jug is empty, and it was a big jug, relative to a play... but I need, what, 30 more fucking jugs?? I don't know how to find 30 more jugs, I've never needed 30 jugs - I am a one jug guy!

But I'm still wandering, gotta see this through. In my wandering and I've found, like, a highball glass and bottle cap or some shit. Maybe a few empty jugs and a dried up horse skull for ambience. Rattle snake. Scorpion.

Why not start with one book instead of four?

Totally, I'm with you. I'm trying to now focus on the one book that is The End of the First Age, and I've got it sorta mostly kinda outlined, so that's my focus. But I still need more jugs. So many jugs. Please send jugs.

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