The Long and Winding (Writing) Road

When you force things that aren’t meant to be, you usually wind up in trouble.

–Brenda K. Stone

 

I had a plan for this entry when I opened the window. Actually, I had a couple of them. I bored myself. Which is when I go to my fallback, my collected quotes. The last couple of weeks were pretty good for quote collecting, not from actual books, but people who write them, aka other authors I know on Facebook. Brenda K. Stone is one of my NECRWA chapter sisters, super-traveler, and writer of soon to be unleashed upon the world rock and roll romances. I tried linking her Facebook page, but technology and I are having creative differences, so feel free to cut and paste the below:

https://www.facebook.com/brenda.stone.9404?ref=ts&fref=ts

Well. That, it links. I’ll take it. Brenda and I always end up chatting when we run into each other at meetings or conferences -not nearly enough- and following her globe-trotting gives me some virtual travels, as I go about the everyday. The quote above was actually written about -surprise, surprise- an unexpected twist in some travel plans, but girlfriend rolled with it, and had a fabulous time anyway. Good lesson.

Another good lesson comes from H, she of the nightly Skype chats. Pretentious song lyrics are an endless source of titles for anything; that’s one of her bits of advice, though I should mention that Her Last First Kiss got its name before we began our association. That’s not the lesson I meant, however. It was the lesson I had to blabber through to get to what I wanted to say. That’s how I do it. I’m a talker. Let me ramble long enough, and I will get there. Which, I am very happy to report, is working out pretty darned well this week. I am highly in favor of that and would like to keep going in that direction.

This, however, is not one of those posts where I skip through fields of daisies and toss out handfuls of food pellets to the woodland creatures attracted by my ebullience. Nope. This brings me back to a couple of nights ago, when H and I checked in on how we were both progressing. I told H I was stuck on scene X.

H observed that I had been stuck on scene X for a while. I agreed. She was correct. I knew what had to happen, but I couldn’t get a handle on it, which was when H gently pointed out that maybe that isn’t what happens. Maybe it was time to try something else. Save scene X in a separate file, and write something drastically different. Insert requisite kicking and screaming and grumbling and justification of why scene X had to be scene X. H went with the broken record tactic; write something drastically different. Maybe that would stink, maybe it would be great, or maybe it would remind my writerbrain what I’d intended before I wandered off. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Okay, she was right. Her advice also aligns pretty darned perfectly with my favorite all time writing advice, from K.A. Mitchell:

  1. Open the file
  2. Change your seat.

Changing one’s seat can be metaphorical as well as literal. In this case, I changed POV, and began the scene before where I saw it starting. Big surprise, it clicked. Instead of smashing Character A’s head against the wall to make them do what I had all planned out, (trust me, the boldface and italics are justified in this case) I stuck a toe in the water of Character B’s head, had them literally start walking without even a firm direction, and what do you know, without me even doing anything, there comes Character A (coincidentally doing the thing I tried to make them do,  only about three feet to the left, pretty much, and this time, doing it completely on their own, thankyouverymuch) with a very basic question that puts Character B in a spot, because this is not a situation they can get out of gracefully. Which is, yes, drastically different from the scene I had originally planned, but has the same spirit, only it actually works because I am not trying to force anything, and letting the characters do their things instead of mine.

Not an easy lesson to learn at times, but an important one. Sometimes, the best thing to do is stop, take a step back, look at the big picture, and see if there’s another way into what’s causing the block. Maybe that’s really a brick wall where one has been trying to get in, and the actual door is really three feet to the left. Maybe it’s around the corner. Maybe it’s on the second floor and one needs to climb those twisty stairs first. Maybe that’s not the easiest way in, but it’s one whale of a lot easier than trying to smash my way through the wall by repeatedly banging my head against it.

Much as I would love to be the mythical creature who gets an idea, cracks knuckles, sits down at a blank screen and taps out a perfect first draft, I’m not. I’m me. I’m going to take the scenic route, make a couple of wrong turns, before I find the right one. Maybe, instead of being angry about that, I can appreciate it for the gift that it is. Appreciate each step taken along the long and winding road that leads to HEA, instead of grumbling about it. No two writers’ journeys are going to be the same. We have to find our own ways inside our stories, and around within them, but when we do? The view is incredible.

 

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