I haven’t been feeling well these last two weeks. There have been headaches, stomach aches, unfounded inner outbursts, lack of appetite, insomnia, and worst of all, I spent thirteen plus days not been able to add anything good to my work in progress.
I was stuck on one scene. When it felt like my head was going to explode, I took a break and spent half a day cooking, playing games and watching TV with my Piano Man and the Little Princess. Actually, I determined not to disrupt my misery, but my Piano Man wouldn’t hear of it. He showed up at my writing studio, told me, “Cheer the fuck up.” He kissed me hard, waved delicious creamed spinach and sweet potato casserole in my face, and took me home for a few days.
I resumed my writing the night after the kiss and the spinach. The storytelling—or should that be story-writing?—didn’t improve, but I was energized with fresh fortitude. I took the scene that was kicking my behind and rewrote it five times. I, while neck deep in despair, knew that everything I had written was crap. But in the words of Stephen King, “Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”
So I went back and reread all the shoveled shit. And you know what, my Wicked Darlings? Three of the drafts stunk like a garden of rotten buttholes under a midday desert sun. Then I read the oldest of the drafts, and voilà! I found my way back into the story.
Curious about what froze my flow? A few things:
- My main character is a bit older than I thought.
- She is best friends with a guy, not with the girl I created for her.
- Alma Mia Cienfuegos will not allow anyone but herself to narrate her story.
I’m not saying that my character is writing her tale; my stories and my life are mine to sculpt. But in storytelling like in spirituality, things can go terribly wrong when one tries to follow an unbendable plot. It is great to have an idea of where we want our lives and stories to go, but the world is ever-changing. Only those who bend and twist with its turns will live and have a chance at happiness.
|Twisting by Natasha Gunn|