The new novel I am drafting (Working title: In All of Creation) features a protagonist who is either insane or uniquely gifted. One thing is for certain: she is a writer (as well as a painter and matchless artist in many other media).
I have previously written about characters who wrote books. In Always Faithful Connie Rydell (who is tax attorney) writes a book on on taxes and estate planning. A character in another story (who works for the Charleston, South Carolina chamber of commerce) writes a book about the local history and culture. In The Adventures of Miss Maybelle, Maybelle (who is a photographer) writes a memoir. In each of those cases, writing a book is incidental to the person's profession. They write books to share what they know or what they have experienced. In writing their stories they narrate, but do not create.
Libby Pohlman is an altogether different kind of character from any other I have written about. She is an artist in every possible respect. She writes. She paints. She makes quilts, pottery, furniture, and who knows what else (I have only written 30,000 words so far, so she may have a lot of skills I don't even know about yet). Libby's art is incidental to nothing. Creating beauty is the animating purpose for her life. She sells the results of her creativity to make money (a lot of money), but the money is incidental to the art.
It is far too early in the process to know where this story is headed, but I already have the sense that it is going to cut a whole lot closer to the core of my own creativity than anything I have written before. The cowardly part of me thinks I should be afraid. I am not. I am excited to think I must be growing as a writer if I have the courage to face such elemental themes as the nature and source of creativity.
I may or may not be capable of doing justice to this phenomenal character. Time will tell about that. Whether or not the novel ends up to be a publishable work, it is already guaranteed I will learn something valuable from grappling with Libby's Story.
And I will be a better writer for having made the effort.