December 11, 2003


So of course after bragging about how smooth my story was sailing along, I came to a dead halt. Or rather, one of those moments where you say, ďI canít write this. Nu-uh. No way. Too hard. Not fun anymore, can I stop now? Get a job as an auto mechanic, get all covered in grease, with bulging arm muscles, and forget about the writing thing?Ē

The thing about writing from a real-life event? Itís not like remembering that event. Itís like plunging back in time: breathing the air in that long-ago room, hearing the sounds and smelling the scents and feeling the emotions. Thatís the hard part, because of course for a moment in your life to be story-worthy, it was probably a painful one.

Thatís what happened to me a couple of days ago. I got to a part of the story I didnít want to write. The real-life events turned out fine, I can look back and shrug, we can talk about it and say ďYeah, that was kinda weird, huh?Ē But now Iím writing from the point of view of someone who doesnít know the rest of the story yet. Not a place I ever want to be again. Only I am now, because Iím writing it. I write it because itís a good story. You canít go over it, you canít go under it, you can only go through it. Again.

ďSo why not write something brand new, completely fictional?Ē I hear you say, ďSomething without that baggage from the past.Ē Well, I do that too. With my novel. Which is currently sitting on the computer behind this file, taunting me. This next part, the section Iím about to write? Excruciating for the characters. And Iíve invested in their emotional lives by now, maybe a little too much. I know these people, I care about them. And as I write, I am them, at least a little. So yeah. Iím squirming about that one too.

Ah, the writing life. Itís a breeze.

Sure thing.

Posted by Tamar at December 11, 2003 02:05 PM

Here's a tip my more disciplined writer friend gives me (actually she orders me, but I'll pass it on in the form of a tip) - skip that. Write some other part of it. Assume you've already writen it, and write something else. Then the pressure isn't there and you can go back.

Writing can be terrifying. Right now I'm avoiding working on my novel because the internal push to finally complete one of the 6 novels I've started in my life is combining with a stress about the research and I'm freaking out. So instead I'm writing easy readers for phonics. Much less intimidating, but not as fulfilling.

"Jen is big. Pam is small."

Posted by: Sarah at December 13, 2003 05:56 AM

Sarah, I've heard that too. And tried it. Doesn't work for me. I wish it did. I have to know -- intimately, concretely know -- what happened before I can move forward. However, when it comes to research? I fake it if I don't know it and go back later and fill it in once I've done my homework.

Easy readers, huh? Sounds appealing right now! ł

Posted by: Tamar at December 17, 2003 10:01 PM