Grrr! I’m not as far along with my work in progress as I imagined I’d be. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m making good headway. I’m not stalled at all, but I always have a tendency to compare myself to others, often unfavorably. So, I try to balance that insecurity with self examination. What good things do I bring to the table when I’m being me? Why do I do it the way that I do? I know I can always do it better, but sometimes I need to stop and look at what’s good about my process–as aggravating as it may be.
It seems to me that when I’m writing, the beginning is the hardest part. I know a lot of people who get an idea and ride it like a rocket from beginning to end, but it doesn’t really work that way for me. I’m more like an oyster plagued with an annoying little grain of sand. In the beginning I have a niggle of a thought and it’s usually an idea that makes me uncomfortable. It’s something that’s hard for me to look at full on. (Yeah, self-examination is kinda painful.) So…I sort of have to sneak up on that thought–because if I face it directly–it hurts me. How do I do that? By using my imagination to soften the edges. Crafting a story allows me to coat my own issues like a pearl. It lets me take something coarse and painful and turn it into something layered and beautiful. I still get to grow, but in a gentler way.
So, as I was saying, the beginning takes time for me and it’s awkward. It’s like rolling a ball of yarn. At first the shape isn’t round at all. It’s clumpy and irregular. That’s what the start of a first draft looks like for me. But as I keep trying to wrap myself around that initial thought, things take shape. Then something happens–the story begins to move without so much prodding from me. The pearl gets just enough layers to be round and smooth. The yarn takes shape and becomes a ball that rolls.
Finally–I think I’ve made it to that sweet spot. *crosses fingers* I think I just might be in that space where the story is beginning to breath on it’s own. And I know this because I felt the magic happen for the very first time. I was riding in the car on the way to pick up my son last week. I had on my GRAVITY playlist and I was just letting my mind go where it wanted to. I allowed myself to wander around and take a peek inside all the little corners and crevices in my own head. And then I found something I needed… I pulled out a beautiful, sad, haunting, moving vision that was so powerful it made me cry. And I knew that it would be in my story and then it sparked another vision and then another. And the weird thing was, I kept picturing Dumbledore from Harry Potter, as he stood in front of a Pensieve, pulling silvered thoughts out of his head and placing them into a basin where they could be better examined.
Dumbledore: “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.“
Harry: “You mean… that stuff’s your thoughts?“
For me, a book is a basin for what I’m thinking. It’s the place where I isolate certain thoughts, look at them a new way and see the bigger picture. It’s the place where magic happens. I don’t know any other way to get the words out. And I’m not sure I can rush it, although, that won’t stop me from trying. Perhaps I am just destined to go from pensive to pensieve.
What’s hard to accept about your writing style? And don’t be too hard on yourself because it just might be a blessing instead of a curse.