I’m not stuck, I’m just mired. Having taken the past week off of writing due to traveling and visiting, I’ve come back to my book to find myself at a scene where I know it’s not exactly right and it’s slow to come to me.
I think a lot of writing is like this. It’s not all pretty, it’s not all perfect, it’s getting your messy, poorly written, sometimes confusing ideas on the page. Then you go back and turn them into slightly neater, better written, often still confusing scenes. Then you edit them again. And again. And again. And maybe at the end of all that you’ll have something that’s still not quite right, but now you know where you want it to go. And with one last edit (or maybe a few last edits) you’re there. This is where I am stuck. The no-man’s land of “again and again and again.”
The scene I am working on is pivotal to the story. It’s the scene that causes Adrianna and Donovan to strike out on their own, running from the armies of the King and towards a destiny they don’t know they have. (Yeah, that’s right… it’s a cliched basic storyline. The real fun comes in the details, like the hidden worlds behind every waterfall. That’s all me.)
I can’t describe exactly what is wrong with this scene in it’s current incarnation, only that it is not flowing the way I am used to my writing working out. I am struggling for every sentence, for each idea. I’m full of self-doubt and frustration that is telling me to move on to the next scene and let this one work itself out at a later time, but I think if I can’t get this scene to come together right, then I won’t have a foundation for moving forward.
It’s an incredibly frustrating place to be. Not because I don’t think I will ever get it right, but because the scene isn’t showing me the path.
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love gave a talk about writing and creativity (here’s the link if you’re interested, and thank you to my writing teacher for sharing it with me). In her talk she discusses how the Greeks used to believe that an external being was responsible for creativity. The really creative people were only tools for the creative process of a little deamon or muse that lived in their house. They had to show up and their muse would give them their ideas.
I’m not sure how I feel about that in general – it’s a pretty cool idea, but a little impractical. Then again, I write fantasy, how can I refuse to believe something mystical because I can’t see it?
Anyway, whether it’s true or not, that’s how I feel today. I have shown up, but my muse is just not working for me. I’m here, putting in the time and the effort… so where is it?
It probably hasn’t come home from vacation yet.
Until it gets back, I’m here, slogging my way through.