I did a lot of writing and thinking last night and this morning. I don't think the grief scene will be hard to write, but it's kind of like an island--I needed to build a good foundation for it in my mind before working through just what will rise above the surface and make it into the scene.
As I work through these things, I keep finding metaphors. (My friend Robert will tell you that I am quite the little metaphorist, or something like that. But it's true. My brain is always looking for metaphors or analogies that will explain things with greater brevity and clarity, and I take great delight in finding that perfect metaphor for complex things. I've always been this way, was this way even before I became an English major.)
Anyway, I was seeing a metaphor for my character's situation ... and that "metaphor" had actually happened in a previous chapter. Then I saw another metaphor for a different aspect of the situation ... and it had occurred several times already in the story. I don't want to talk to much about it, but here's a very cheesy example, not from this book:
Say the character is a successful businessman who "thinks he's so great" and, with his smug confidence and superior talent, unknowingly crushes the aspirations of less accomplished--but no less talented--younger, greener folks in the business world. And in the book, he also never quite looks where he's going and tends to step on the spring wildflowers that are peeking up through the cracks in the sidewalk outside his condo. The metaphor is of unknowingly crushing people in the early blooms of their careers, but he actually does unknowingly crush the early blooms every time he walks out his door. It's an unspoken metaphor and a symbol and an actual event, all at once.
So. I'll use the example above to explain what happened with my novel--or with my consciousness--this morning. I'd made the guy step on the flowers in Chapter 2, and again in Chapters 4 and 7. I didn't really have a reason for it; it just seemed like the thing to do, the thing to write. It felt right. Besides, the flowers inevitably grow right outside his front door, so he would have to really make an effort not to step on them, which he, of course, doesn't. Then, later, his character developed and he turned out to be a guy who, not maliciously but ignorantly, crushes the new and colorful talents that have the potential to enrich his concrete, black-and-white world. And I sit back and think, "Whoa! A pattern! And I didn't even realize I was making one!"
It's happening here. Some part of me was working on the pattern all along, and my conscious mind just realized it. And it fits together so perfectly, and then I keep seeing more patterns, more layers, that were there all along and are only now surfacing into my consciousness.
The patterns emerge, and everything seems to "fit" in a kind of fugal intricacy. My job is just to keep writing, to keep realizing and building on the pattern--not by thinking about the pattern, but by writing what seems "right," and having faith that, as long as I'm true to the story, the pattern will continue to work itself out.