February 17-20, 2008

A new draft is an opportunity for reflection on where I’ve been and where I might be going, both with the story and my characters. It allows me to decide which new doors to open and which old ones to close if they no longer suit my purpose. It’s not unusual to discover a character referring to something before he or she actually knows it, a little slip in time that completely eradicates the purpose of the scene I’ve carefully constructed around it. Sometimes I don’t recognize it for many drafts.

It’s also a time to explore those magical intuitive impulses that come from nowhere (how else to explain it? what else to call them but magic?) as I get more connected to the material. Recently I discovered the perfect last name for a psychiatrist in the new book. Or perhaps it discovered me. I’d given him the first name ‘Martin’, which seemed to fit, because for me it has overtones of self-righteousness and intellectual coldness. I can’t say exactly why, but it may be in part because of Martin Luther (about whom I know little—and I hereby offer my apologies to all the Martins out there who don’t exemplify those qualities.)

One day a word flew into my head while I was wondering what to call him: Sanger. I didn’t know what it meant, but it reminded me of ‘sanguine’—not a good choice, as this Martin is anything but bloody or passionate. But the intuition was so strong that I did a search to see if I could come up with something similar. I discovered that ‘Sanger’ is a German word meaning ‘pincer’ or ‘pliers.’ The immediate image I had was that of a pair of pliers working on the inside of someone’s brain with the skull cut open—a perfect visual reference for what psychiatrists do! I knew I had to use it, even if the casual reader will never know what it means.

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