Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hanging in there, praying for the muse to show up

Once I have an idea for a chapter, the writing usually flows pretty well. I stop and start, go back and make adjustments, but stuff moves along. Boy, that was not the case yesterday. My character Al had been nagging me for several weeks. He needed to have a conversation with his minister but he wouldn't tell me why or what it was going to be about.

Tuesday night when I went to bed, I asked my muse to visit and give me some guidance so that I could write that chapter yesterday morning. Well, he did not show up. No dream, no insights, no nada. I did wake very early, done with sleep, and hoped that was a good sign. It wasn't.

For the next 4 hours, I eked out two pages of conversation. I started with Al's point of view. Then I reworked it from the pastor's point of view. I couldn't figure out what the relationship was between the two men. It seemed cordial enough but I knew something was missing. Not in my writing but between them. What was the point of the conversation? What was the point of the chapter? I was practically begging Al to help me out.

And then, in one of those amazing aha's, I saw it all. What Al wanted help with. Why the pastor wouldn't help him. Their relationship. It was a thrilling and relief-filled moment. It also put some other character pieces in place for me that I've been needing all week. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weighted down by my characters' dilemmas

I'm away this week on a writing retreat. The weather has been drismal: foggy, rainy, grey, closed in. The house is large but there are some big personalities here, including one I don't much care for, so it feels closed in. And the quietest place to be is my small room so I'm feeling even more hemmed in.

I realized this afternoon as I walked on the beach in the drizzle and wind that I'm feeling low, blue, off. I'd been chalking it up to the weather and that's part of it probably. I've been uncomfortable in proximity to the woman who irritates me, and that's probably part of it too.

But it occurred to me this afternoon that I am feeling weighted down by the dilemmas of my characters. On one hand, my plot is galloping to a conclusion. On the other, one character's development is in sad shape. I wrote two lovely and insightful chapters about him maybe 7 months ago (in the first quarter of the book) and he's a major player that I've been treating as a bit-player. So I'm going back and filling in the gaps. He is the character that I understand the least. At the same time, he is a character who intrigues me a great deal. I want to understand what motivates him.

It's the kind of writing that requires a sidelong glance. I cannot search directly for what I need to know. It has to come to me in some other way than willing it onto the page.

I'm grateful for the spaciousness of this week since maybe that could happen.