Saturday, February 25, 2012

500 Miles

Sometimes reaching the end of a novel feels like walking five-hundred miles to get home. Between the enthusiasm that starts a story, and working out all the what-ifs along the way, it often seems like crossing the Atlantic: at some point in the journey I end up in the doldrums. I can't list all the causes that might interrupt a story, but usually they have something to do with daily living. Other times, I know where the story is going, but either the path is unclear or I don’t like the direction.

Sometimes stress can make me write like a dervish, other times it stops all writing. All authors (hopefully) have family and friends who occasionally need their undivided attention; sometimes it’s work. The point is I don’t believe most authors can write all the time.  I know I can't. To write you need to live, and living comes with obligations that should be enjoyed.

To resume a story left for any extended length of time means becoming reacquainted with what has been accomplished. That often leads to revision, so it seems like I’m writing backwards.

Is there a cure for a stalled story? I don't know any particular sure-fire starter. I’ve heard others talk about how they cured their problem, and each cure seemed to take a different path. I’m beginning to believe that every author works the situation out for each story in a different way.

I do know that my story doldrums are usually mental in dimension. Some unheard internal voice is telling me something is out of sync in the story, and until I listen and reach that ah-ha! moment, my story will remain miles from home. This doesn’t daunt me. Walking is good exercise, and the experts say exercise keeps the mind healthy, too. I know walking helps me listen better to my inner voice, so I will gratefully trudge toward home no matter the number of miles to the end.

Check out Protecting Her Own from Champagne Books.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Very true, and a good use of metaphors and similies.

Jude Johnson said...

I try to think in terms of gestation. If a story stalls, my interpretation is that it either needs to ferment a little more or rest during a dormancy period to bloom later. I don't think there's a cure or fix for stalling, other than to take a walk, a deep breath, and leave it for a bit. You never knew what may re-spark your imagination.


Rhobin said...

Good advice Jude. Thank you both for commenting.