Down the Well: Vodnik Chapter Twenty-Four

When I’m writing a scene for the first time, it’s always interesting to me (after the fact) to see where all the bits and pieces and shreds of ideas came from. An excellent example of this can be seen in this chapter, where Tomas’s descent into the well drew upon several bits of writing I’d done in the past, as well as some life experiences.

First up is Lesana’s transition into a living ice sculpture. I think I’ve mentioned a few times in these commentaries that Vodnik is actually my second story set in Slovakia–my second starring a vodnik, actually. Back in the day, I wrote a single draft of what was going to be a co-authored book that took place half in medieval Slovakia and half in the present day. I was on the line for the medieval stuff, and I used a vodnik as one of my main villains.

(I was going to put an excerpt of the story here, but after re-reading it . . . I’ve decided not to. Some books are much better in memory than they are in reality. Let’s leave it at that.)

Anyway–the vodnik in that book had a scene where he was walking around encased in ice. I didn’t copy the description word for word, but the image–if an ice-person–stayed in my head for a long time until it found another place to appear here in this chapter.

Other elements from various places:

  • Tomas’s headaches are a match for my own migraines (awful, debilitating affairs.)
  • The seamonster is actually based on my wife’s dog growing up: his name was Ajax, and he was a dachshund. I like to think he got reincarnated as an enormous sea monster, which is probably many a dachshund’s dream.
  • And come to think of it, the whole monster-as-a-big-dog-at-heart is an approach I used in my third book: Weaver of Dreams. The main character gets swallowed by an enormous invisible monstrosity that later on turns into a cocker spaniel.
  • Back in my sophomore year of college, I took a creative writing class and had to write a description of an inanimate object. I chose a well. The description stayed with me, and came back in bits and pieces in this chapter.
  • The leap-frog fountains at EPCOT have always been a favorite of mine. They were a favorite of Tomas’s, too. Coincidence?!?

I guess the bottom line of this post is just an observation that no writing is wasted. No experience is wasted. You never know when you’re going to turn to your past to plunder something for your present. I keep everything I’ve written–that’s the beautiful thing about the digital age. You can have it all, and it takes up no additional space. Not that I plan on cutting and pasting things from an old draft into a current one, but rather the ideas hashed out and used in one work can be consulted for use in a later one.

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