Shoveling Sh*t from a Sitting Position

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
    

44 comments:

  1. sometimes you just have to continue past the place that you can't get right and then come back to it later.

    ReplyDelete
  2. absynthe_and_arsenic1/24/2012

    Hmmm. The last lines of this post bring two things swimming up from my murky mind... First, something about the tree that bends with the wind is stronger than the one that will not, as the one that isn't flexible will merely break. Or something like that. o_O
    Secondly, I read somewhere that "wicce" means to bend or shape, making it an interesting word origin thingy for our modern "wicca". Which brings me to a third thought that those of us who follow eclectic paths need to be even MORE flexible in order to see the windy, twisty road before us. 
    Anywhom. Caffeine is still en route to my brain, but these fuzzy little bits of thoughts are what popped up upon reading your post. ^-^
    I'm glad you cheered the fuck up (your piano man gives awesome advice, btw) and am glad that your no longer shoveling shit from a sitting position. =D

    XOXO

    ReplyDelete
  3. Twinflame Studios1/24/2012

    This is the place I've been sitting at with a number of my stories for (in some cases) years, now. One case in particular, I'd written 14 chapters each at least 4000 words, the story was maybe only two-thirds done, and my muse up and quit. I haven't touched that one in two years. I keep going back and trying, but it's stuck and the muse refuses to deign to descend.  I have unfortunately never found any technique that works well for me to get my muse back to work...

    Anyways, Magaly, I wanted to ask if you'd ever tried the National Novel Writing Month challenge? It's held at the nanowrimo.org website every November - the challenge is for 50000 words in 30 days. I've tried it several years and failed every time, but got good story ideas out of each one. (now if my muse would just let me finish one of them!). I thought you might be interested in checking it out :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a sweety, your piano man! Glad you are back on track with your story :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well Done...Well said...and Well Loved :D XXX

    ReplyDelete
  6. andrea berg1/24/2012

    Lol Magaly!!! flexibly body flexible mind!!! Glad you are still writing !!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hope you feel better soon and that the writing flow continues!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Slommler1/24/2012

    I am bending and twisting myself!!!  Sigh!  I have my newest piece kicking my artistic butt!!
    So today we wrestle and I will find the answer!!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

    ReplyDelete
  9. Magaly, your piano man is a sweetheart ;o) I am happy you are back to your regular self ;o) You are so right,  we all have to bend and twist ;o) Big Hugs, Stacy

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kudos to the Piano Man and his insistence for the good of your well being! What a man. By the way, I love that picture of him on your sidebar sitting at the piano. ;-)

    Thank you for sharing that Stephen King quote. One of my biggest cop-outs for writing (or not) is to say, "this is too hard." or "I'm just not feeling this story," which translates to , "Every word and phrase I have written is not perfect or working out just as I planned so the entire story just sucks." I have shoveled so much shit in my lifetime. I'm sure at least the first 3 chapters of at least 6 unfinished books, several short stories and a poem or two. But I must admit the biggest lesson I need to learn is how to give up control and let the story or character flow just as they wish to.

    Having read your stories, your teasers, even your posts, I know in my heart of hearts that you have everything it takes to make it in the writing world and the way you bend, twist and turn will only lead to a fuller excellence than you already posses. Have a beautifully creative week, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  11. So many times I have written something, written it off as total shite, and come back to it, sometimes years later and used it as fresh fodder for something spectacular. Hope you're feeling better.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Words of wisdom, right there. I read this morning that Churchill said "If you are going through hell, keep going". which seems very apt!
    Glad you are feeling better, that Piano Man is so clever getting you out of a funk!
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. Cameron1/25/2012

    I'm sorry to hear that you've been feeling poorly....and that mind and body sometimes take the same path.....
    ....but to give something a go, not once, but 5 times under these circumstances, is reason to be proud and a reminder to us all that poop is sometimes needed to grow wildflowers :D

    ReplyDelete
  14. Diandra Linnemann1/25/2012

    Ack, fighting your characters never ends well. Why do these stupid people take on a life (and mind!) of their own so quickly??

    ReplyDelete
  15. SunshineShelle1/25/2012

    So totally cool!!!!!!! I was just, & this is the total TRUTH, telling Trinity on the way to her first day back at school today how if someone has a talent (like for ANYTHING, gardening, education, WRITING, photography) we need to passionately pursue it, not necessarily make $$ out of it, but pursue it, like Stephen King, he needed to pay bills so he worked in a laundromat while he wrote, he did it because he not only he had talent, he had a vision & passion, but he still had to pay the bills, so he had to work in something that I'm sure HE didn't want to do, but he was supa-cool, and never gave up working with his TALENT, while he was working to pay his rent... man, I wonder if Mr King knows he's so admired :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. SunshineShelle1/25/2012

    Oh yes Ms Magaly, & I admire you & your talent too... you made a breakthrough, your vision got your characters on their way to the next stage... I'm waiting for that tale now...
    no pressure ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is absolutely true.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love being an Eclectic Witch, it just offers me so much to choose from and the ability to exclude the things that make no sense to me. Life should be that way for everything.

    And yes, my love is quite the wise fellow ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. The first novel I finished wasn't a great piece as a whole, but I've been taking bits of it and turning them into something else. For me, sometimes, it works looking at the tree instead of the forest.

    I might try Nano Wrimo one day, but not these days. I'm self-unforgiving when it comes to commitments. And going to school and writing at the same time is a little unpredictable. I might not have to write a paper one day, and not be able to add to my NW count... I would feel terrible about not accomplishing my quota. Yep, I have issues lol

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm very lucky to have him, aren't I? I don't even have to remind myself why, he always manages to show me. Hugs right back at you ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've heard the melody of your writing and I know the complete song is in you. I would love to listen to the whole thing, my Mina.

    Oh, and I have repeated your "What a man" phrase several times today. He is sleeping right now, trying to contort his body so he can be comfortable, hug my thighs and let me write all at the same time lol. Like you said, "What a man."

    ReplyDelete
  22. The same thing happens to me all the time. Yep, I've been known to scavenge around my own seemingly dead tales and bring bits and pieces back to life ;-) 

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wonderful quote, who would want to get stuck in hell, right?

    ReplyDelete
  24. "poop is sometimes needed to grow wildflowers" how wise Cameron. I will use this one day. It reads like something the deserves exploration.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have no idea; and the glaring and hissing, what's that all about?

    ReplyDelete
  26. I truly hope Mr. Kind knows how many writers he has kept writing. He is one of the most realistic individuals I've ever had the pleasure to read about. I love that he is true to himself, and oh my, his relationship with his wife is admirable, too. A whole person, something strange this days, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  27. lilacwolf1/25/2012

    I've heard authors talk about characters that take over, and I was blown away the first time it happened to me.  I think it's the coolest thing that authors get to experience.  :)  I'm sorry to hear you've been sick, but welcome back to the land of the living.  ;)

    ReplyDelete
  28. "garden of rotten buttholes under a midday
    desert sun" ... NOW THAT IS ROTTEN!!! LOL...

    ReplyDelete
  29. They say when you're stuck for inspiration, keep writing anyway just to keep yourself in the habit, and maybe you'll write something worth keeping. They also say giving yourself a bit of time away from the story from time to time - even if it's just a few minutes - can help. I don't actually know who "they" are, but still.
     
    "I'm not saying that my character is writing her tale," you say? Ah, but Mags, that's just it... To a certain extent they do write their own stories. A writer's job is to figure out what those stories are, and help others to see them and the characters who prompted you to bring them to life!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I know exactly what you mean - my Nano characters this past year had minds of their own!!

    On another note... I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!
    Here are the rules:

    -Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post
    -Share 7 things about yourself
    -Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading
    -Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award

    http://witchofhowlingcreek.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/versatile-blogger-award/

    ReplyDelete
  31. ljrich1/26/2012

    For a minute there I was going to ask if you've had your thyroid checked.:) All those things sound like a lot of what I've been dealing with too.

    ReplyDelete
  32. He seriously told you to "cheer the fuck up"? Keep him. :)

    It sounds like your character has a mind of her own. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. It is pretty amazing. I think I stopped freaking out when I realized that I'm just in charge of the writing, arranging, but not the way the characters act.

    ReplyDelete
  34. They do like to whisper quite a bit, don't they? And sometimes when you don't write fast enough, they get mad and needed lol

    ReplyDelete
  35. Characters will be characters ;-)

    Thanks so much for the award. I'll claim it soon! Also, I know I owe you something. I'll have it ready in a few days. Now that I'm feeling like myself again.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Woman! Don't give bad luck any ideas, you hear me!?

    I think it was just my temperamental stomach. I'm all better  now *crosses fingers and knocks on all kinds of wood*

    ReplyDelete
  37. I sure will ;-D

    And yes, I think all characters think for themselves.

    ReplyDelete