The Middle

I don’t want to blog today. I really don’t. It’s Tuesday again, and, again, I am on Monday’s entry. Session with N got me pumped to write…but on the book, not on the blog. I’ve started this I stopped counting how many times, and probably as many times, switched over to camera mode so I can blabber in video, but then switch it back off again.

So, do I know what I’m doing today? Seriously no. I don’t. That’s okay. I’m doing it anyway. I can figure it out as I go. Parts of it, I have figured. I am working on HLFK. I am writing this blog entry (obviously.) I am reading for pieces that will be posted on Heroes and Heartbreakers. That should take up most of the day. I am chatting via Skype with a writer friend who dragged me, kicking and screaming, onto that platform, because we needed to chatter at each other. I have come, quickly, to love Skype. So far, I’ve only used it for text chatting, not video, but that will probably happen at some point.

The companionship helps. Writing can be a lonely business. Some writers need to be completely alone. If I’m alone too long, I start to loop my thoughts, and I go round and round and round and can’t find the off ramp. This is dangerous, oh so very, very dangerous. This is where miscarried stories lose it, mired in the sea of possibilities and questions over what I should do. There’s that word, should. I don’t like that word.

Seriously, should what? Should why? Who decides on all these shoulds, anyway? Probably them. We all know them, or rather, we don’t. The Hypercritical Gremlins do, I am quite sure. They get us second guessing ourselves, until the list of things we should do, the list of things we believe we can do, gets smaller and smaller until there isn’t anything left but rocking back and forth in a fetal position under the dining room table, clutching a stuffed animal and muttering something about gummi bears. Or not gummi bears. I couldn’t think of anything to put in there, and plugged in gummi bears as a placeholder. Plus I also really like gummi bears. I have gummi bears. Gummi bears, gummi bears, gummi bears.

All right, enough free association. We have come to the part of the post where I give up all pretenses of trying to impart any wisdom and concentrate instead on babbling until I reach magic word 700 and then I can post this entry and get back to the writing of actual fiction.  That stuff, I can do. It’s a glorious thing, to have stuck with the characters and their story and puzzle it out until, hey, there’s an outline. This thing happens and that thing happens and I don’t know what has to happen before this other thing, but I get down what I do know and then…and then, things happen.

The friend I’m chatting with today likened stories to houseplants. If you don’t tend to them frequently enough, they’re going to commit suicide. My friend put it more colorfully, but there’s some truth there. With the dubious distinction of as many miscarried novels under my belt as I personally have, I have been there. I have a key to there. There was a time when I was getting my mail there. I won’t say that, occasionally, a piece or two will route through there, but, by and large, I think I am very most likely on the other side.

How do I know this? Is it even possible to know this sort of thing? Am I calling my shot too soon and not watching for the black claw of despair to grab my ankle and pull me back into the pit? Is that being a tad melodramatic right there? I don’t know, maybe, possibly, and likely so. The brain of a writer is a scary place, on a good day. All those people milling about in there, all with their own minds, wills and emotions, and it’s our job to make them play nice, or at least work toward the same goal – a finished book.

Lovely as it would be if those finished books could spring fully formed from our writerly brains, then we’d miss the strength that comes from the journey. It’s babbling over instant message and playing Mad Libs, asking the person on the other end for a location and type of character. It’s throwing songs onto a playlist by instinct and mushing them around until they fall into the right order. It’s reading and thinking what if – and following it through. It’s finding a couple dozen ways that don’t work, before the one that does. It’s cracking open a notebook and putting pen to paper, and/or typing into a file. It’s theory and practice. Concept and execution. It’s coming back to the page again and again and again, even on the days when that doesn’t seem possible (and some days, it isn’t, and that’s okay; try again the next one) and putting something down, until, at last, the words that flow from finger to page are The End.

Until then, it’s The Middle. The middle can be murky. It can be sticky. It can be confusing and tricky and hard and discouraging, but it is, and we have to go through it to get to The End. Up and down those three steps in the theoretical PT room of our writing minds. Put something on the page. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It won’t be perfect, but it does need to be written. Like this. Look right here; I had to keep going for 700 words, and this is 960 by the count on the bottom of my screen. This is why the discipline works for me.

Three blog entries per week. Two handwritten pages each morning. Weekday afternoons at the coffee house. Writer chats that include “if I have to write, you have to write,” and showing each other what we did. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, we’ll get there, as long as we keep going.









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