Saturday, January 11, 2014

On Plot Wrangling

There are times when writing is fun. When the words just flow, the story seems to write itself, and characters take on a life of their own. When I can pound out 1000 words in 45 minutes or less, when whole chapters come together in the space of a day or two. When I get so into the writing that scary parts give me chills, funny parts make me laugh, and poignant moments bring me almost to tears.

Then there are weeks like this one, when it seems like nothing is working, when I stare at the screen for what feels like hours (it's not - I never have whole hours to sit and stare at the screen), and I think I may never finish this book. And even if I do, it will probably be crap. This week, I've hardly written a word but I've spent all this mental energy wrestling with my plot. I've rearranged scenes, added them, deleted them, thought of new ideas and rejected them, asked questions that may or may not have answers, and at the end of all that, I've decided I should just stop wrestling with this book and go back to writing it. It is in the writing that I find my voice.

Here is something I've learned in life: Just because you can write, doesn't mean you should. If there is anything else you can do that brings you joy and gets you up every morning, do that. I keep coming back to writing because I love it, but also because I have to do it. Sometimes I think it's going to drive me crazy, but really, it keeps me sane. I don't get paid for it, and I may never get paid for it, but I'm learning that it is one of a few things I have to do every day to stay grounded. Spending time with God, reading my Bible, praying, having spiritual conversations with others, and ... writing. If I don't, I regret it. So I guess what I'm to say is that no matter how many times I have to chase this plot down and tie it up, I keep at it because, well, I have to. And because there really isn't anything else I'd rather do when I grow up.

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