Friday, July 06, 2012

I Get The Message!

I started this 1,000-piece puzzle back in March while I was still undergoing chemo. I love the challenge of doing complex puzzles and this one was quite therapeutic. Unfortunately, it proved to be a bit too much even for me. I quit working on it when I got to the last three sections of trees. All the pieces looked the same and none of them seem to fit.  

Patience has never been my strongest quality so consequently, the puzzle is still on my desk waiting for day when I decide to work on it again.

I will, you know.

After putting so much time and effort into solving it, I just don’t have the heart to put back in the box. 

Writing for me has been much like this puzzle. I have three novels that I drafted years ago and a fourth one outlined. They're all waiting for me to finish them too. Between one thing or another, the writing bug left me just over a year ago and to make matters worse, I didn’t care.  

I'm now down to the last eight days of radiation treatment. Life seems to have finally settled into a new norm and guess what, the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train. It's the bright realization that one of these days soon I'll wake up and without thinking about anything except doing the things I enjoy.

The urge to write has started to tug on my sleeve a litter harder these days so for weeks now I’ve been telling myself and anyone who cared to listen that I’m ready. After much thought, I decided to blow the dust off a novel I wrote in 2005 to see what, if any part of this first draft was salvageable. Keep in mind that my first novel wasn’t published until 2007 so anything I wrote prior to that is still in a raw state and in dire need of an edit. 

I didn’t have to read past the first paragraphs of a number of chapters to know each was pointless, the dialogue is stiff, and the narrative telling.  Yet in spite of the flaws, the basic plot—the killer’s motivation, is worth exploring which brings me to what I’ve been doing these pasts few days.

To reacquaint myself with the storyline, I began studying the content of each chapter and making a list of the key elements contained in each. Of the original 48 chapters, I eliminated six as well as three characters, and a subplot that threatened to take over the plot.  As excited I was to actually concentrate on the task, this burst of energy didn't seem to be enough to keep me focused.  Easily distracted with one too many computer games, my creative juices slip away...again.  

Ironically, as I read through my friends’ posts on Face Book yesterday morning, I found a quote that hit me hard between the eyes. It read as follows:
“There is no such thing as writer’s block. You WILL write.
You WILL put something on the screen.
Writers write, while procrastinators bitch and moan.
You. WILL. Write.”
Okay, so it's not an earth-shattering statement, but it was what I needed to read at that particular moment.

I spent the next several hours working on developing a new first chapter—all 81 words of it. You may laugh, but those are the hardest 81 words I’ve written in a very long time. At least I DID force myself into the chair and DID write 81 words to a new beginning.  

Later that afternoon, I had to leave for an appointment.  On my way home I drove past a church. Its sign offered a message that read:  
 “Start where you are. Do what you can.”
Good grief! Do you suppose someone is trying to tell me something?  ;)


JD Webb said...

Of course 'someone' is telling you. I maintain it's two someones. God is tugging your sleeve and your inner creative core is itching to get to it. Shut off the computer games and do it, even if it's only an hour or two a day. The writer's block comment is right on. I don't remember who said it but a well known writer said writer's block is just a crutch to allow us to do other things.
You can do it. And for heaven's sake save the part you cut out of the 2005 draft. It could be another one to write.
Off my soap box.

Marta Stephens said...

LoL, thanks Dave! I've read that you shouldn't worry too much about the first chapter until the last one is finished.

For me it's critical to have a good beginning early on. I'm not even talking about polishing it, just a good beginning. I may be stuck on this one a while longer.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Ditto to Dave's eloquent response! You are back, yay!