My writing group took an unplanned hiatus during the summer but got back together on Monday night. There was a lot of catching up to do. Before the night was over, my stomach hurt from laughing about moose hunting in Cape Breton, I learned some Disney vacation tips, and I got to physically hold our first published book. (Of course it’s not “our” book at all, I just want to bask in Meghan’s success for a little bit longer.)
The best part of the night, however, was when we actually talked about our writing.
As some of you know, I’ve been working on a book for a couple of years. Nothing deep or award-winning, it’s just (hopefully) an entertaining page turner. I have gone through some very productive spurts and the first half seemed to write itself but, now that I’m about two-thirds done, I’ve hit a very dry patch.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing, I’ve finished a few shorter pieces of fiction and even some poetry, but I’ve been struggling to get back into the novel. Even though I’ve managed to write a few pages here and there, I’ve lost the spark.
On Monday I confessed my lack of productivity to the group and, instead of chastising me or even letting me off the hook, they asked, “Why?”
It ultimately comes down to my lack of direction in the story. I feel lost. I thought I had a clear vision of the plot, but as I wrote, my characters began to behave unexpectedly. This might sound a little nutty but it’s true. For example, a previously innocuous character, suddenly became a prime asshole and created an unforeseen twist.
I laid out my doubts, giving examples of where the plot had gone off the rails. My three friends gave encouragement, “That sounds good… That still kinda works… Ummm, I guess that could happen…” As the absurdity of what I was describing set in, and the mutual laughter reached a crescendo, the funniest, but wisest, words were spoken. This is my new mantra.
“Just keep writing, you can shave the crazy off later.”
Have you ever been given some sage advice?
I began writing a story when I was 13 (during a tedious summer holiday – we couldn’t go anywhere due to my sister’s surgery). I wrote a completely unbelievable story, which sounded ridiculous, and never even finished it, but I feel in love with the characters I’d created. Ever since then I have re-written the same story, once when I was 14 and again when I was 16. I actually wrote an entire story when I was 16, and I still enjoy reading it, but when I was 17 I returned to it…again…and decided to change it here and there. It’s now another year later, and I decided to use ideas from the original storyline, but start from scratch…again… I’ll get there one day. But good advice – it may come in very handy with my imagination. 😀
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Ahhhhh “Just keep writing, you can shave the crazy off later.” Best. Advice. Ever…I’ve just come out of a 12-day disappearing act myself…I like the notion of a quiet character suddenly becoming a doosh. It’s interesting! Keep going lady – I want to buy that book!
I never should have mentioned the book…Now people are going to be all expectant and stuff!
Thanks for the great comment. 🙂
Um yeah. That’s what your writing buds are for! Go go go – you can do it!
Sounds like a fun group to be around. It’s nice to have people put you in some sort of “check” sometimes too:)
It is a fun group – I only met them through writing and it is nice to have made such wonderful friends!
I am sitting here chuckling to myself over the laughs. You have no idea how much I needed that last night! I wish I could have dragged you guys around with me all day – I had a lot of crazy to shave!
Jodi, I suspect you always have a lot of crazy to shave! 🙂 We’ll always be with ya. My god, Monday night was funny!
Ha! I love that- I don’t attempt anything more ambitious than blogging, but that’s exactly how writing feels to me 🙂
Thanks Miriam. I’ve decided that “shaving the crazy” has universal application. I’m just going to live life and shave the crazy off later!