February 29th, 2012

There’s a book I’ve been working on for a long time.  I love this book, yet I struggle with it, particularly in that vast grey middle where the heavy lifting of plot gets done, where I can’t help but think of Douglas Adams’ pithy title The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul. 

I’ve always known there was a part missing, something crucial.   I could never bring myself to send it out to make the rounds of agents and publishers, not seriously.  I put it in the metaphorical drawer for years, after working on it for years, only bringing it out again a few months ago.  For a time, I hummed along on the sheer joy of recommitment.  I would finish it this time, I’d let my unconscious work on it enough, I’d make the middle sing!

At least, that’s what I thought until I got there, after  a few happy weeks revising the first few chapters   Apparently my unconscious hadn’t figured it out yet.  My muse was giving me the silent treatment.  My other half-finished books began their siren call, work on me instead, bits of plot flotsam for each floating up to capture my imagination.  (The fact that I have all these unfinished books is another blog post.)

I sternly reminded myself that I’d made my usual over-dramatic pronouncement to the writers’ group that this was the book I had to finish before I could write anything else.  The fact that I had to be stern with myself was almost enough by itself to send me running back to my chick-littish LA mystery.  Writing is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?  I’m supposed to love writing!   And here I was, letting my day job get in the way of my writing again!

Maybe it was over-dramatic, but when I said I needed to finish this book, out loud, to a roomful of people I love and respect, I remembered I was saying what I believed, and the saying it out loud was an act of faith.  I do need to finish this book.  And that meant having faith I could shape the dull void in the middle that obscured what was on the other side, not only an ending I love but the rest of the middle.  Is that what I’ve been afraid of?  Is part of the block fearing that I might come up with something that will affect the rest of the book?

Could be.  I’ve always known that there’s a “darling” or two (or three or…) that might have to go.  But here’s the thing:  the last two prompts in group  (see Barbara Mayfields “First Video Writing Prompt” and stay tuned for Susan Rathjen’s upcoming post on her prompt about completely reversing a belief) have let in some light.  I have a brand new proto-scene.  The void is vanishing.  And joy of joys, this scene actually calls back into the manuscript one I’d liked but abandoned long ago (ahh, electronic storage devices) when it was more of a digression than a furthering of the plot.

Faith works.