Without a Net

Listening to: The Dandy Warhols, “Bohemian Like You”

If I squint hard enough, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with my current project. It’s just a pinpoint of light, and I have to really squint, but it’s there.

I guess I’m weird in the way I write novels. At the beginning, I usually have a very vivid idea of what I want to accomplish for those first several chapters. Even though I sometimes have to start a novel a few times before I really strike the chords I want, I’m usually on fairly solid ground once I really get going.

Not so, now. Or, in fact, for the past few months. I know where I want to end up, but I only yesterday figured out exactly how to get there. Up until then, it was just a vague blur in my mind after the stuff I knew would happen: “They’ll get here, and do this, and then…something something something, blah blah, and then the end.” I’ve tried various plotting methods–post-its, outlines, brainstorming, you name it–but I’ve never found my route from those methods.

Now, when the writing is like that–I really have no clue what’s coming next–I kinda have to force myself to just do it. Because I’m freaking terrified–that I’m going to screw it up, that I’m never going to figure out what to write next, etc. But then when I finally get down to business and make myself do it…well, it’s a lot of freaking fun. It’s like being on a trapeze without a net–I”m scared as hell, but man, I’m flying! Stuff is happening and characters are doing things that I didn’t expect, and some of it’s stupid, but some of it’s really good and why didn’t I think of that before? Of course that character would do that! That’s perfect!

Of course, if I avoid my manuscript like the plague, and find lots of other things to do…then I’m not going to get up on that trapeze, am I? And I’m not going to have all that terrifying fun.

So, whenever I find myself at a crossroad, I know the answer is simple (even if I choose to deny it and avoid it for a while):

Just freaking climb that ladder, grab that bar, and go for a swing, already. Jeez.

 

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