Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Highs & Lows

Sitting down with notebook in hand, I stare at the words I wrote yesterday. Where was I? Something was about to happen, something important. Oh yeah…

I press my pen to paper, write a paragraph, then pause. Is that really what I want to say? No matter. It can be fixed later.

Another couple paragraphs and pause again. My character has a choice. Which way is she going to proceed? I close my eyes and stretch my mind out. So many possibilities. I travel down the paths one by one, considering my character's personality and the outcomes of each decision.

Suddenly, it snaps into place. I know what my character will choose. I know how the other characters will react. I know the results of it all. Image piles on image, like a movie in fast-forward.

My pen flies across the paper; adrenaline courses through my body. This will be the best story ever! So much energy! So much emotion! I struggle to capture the impressions striking my mind before they vanish into a void, irretrievable.

Then wham! Nothing. I’ve hit a black, impenetrable wall.

I squeeze out another sentence, then a paragraph. But the words are dull, meaningless, redundant, a way to fill space.

I back up and reread what I just scribbled, hoping to jumpstart the flow again. Bad idea. How could I ever think this was worth anything? The characters are flat, their motivations forced, reactions predictable. Details don’t exist and the plot wraps itself into a ghastly knot. There is not one innovative sentence in what I wrote. Dozens or revisions could never fix this mess. I should throw it all out. In fact I probably should burn the whole novel, or at least send it to bottom-drawer purgatory. As for my writing “career,” isn’t it time I grow up and get a real job?

Now there’s a thought. What if my character…

I write a paragraph, pause, and then write another.

Maybe I can salvage this after all.

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