I've been writing for about two decades. When I started writing fiction, the muse was so inspired, I was writing at least three stories at once, anywhere, anytime. At work, on the bus, at the mall, waking up overnight to write in the dark, just to get an idea out and not miss it. It was crazy. And exciting! And, exhausting too.
'Back in the Day,' I even had readers online who encouraged me with their eagerness for more and praise of my stories and characters. It was their positive feedback that steered me into college for creative writing classes, which I LOVED.
I met amazing people, learned invaluable tips and skills, and also received great constructive feedback from my classmates and professor.
At that time, I was writing Utter Chaos, Like it or Not, and Not In This Lifetime/Another Day In Paradise. These stories are 90-98% completed (and sans vigorous editing passes). I also have ideas for about a dozen other stories. It wasn't long before I realized that, I can come up with countless story ideas, and write until my hand falls off, but somehow my feet become trapped in cement and I am standing motionless. For reasons I still can't quite grasp, I couldn't wrap up a project in a nice, pretty bow. This has been my problem for almost fifteen years.
In the few years since transitioning back to land after my life at sea as a youth counselor on a cruise ship, and dealing with a few massive life-size curve-balls, the muse began to once again throw out new story ideas left right and centre. Suddenly I had three new stories vying for attention. I remember saying to my best friend, how unbelievably tired I was feeling. She replied: "Well, yeah. You pretty much have two full time jobs." I considered that for a moment and realized she was absolutely right. I was working full time at the rent paying day job while writing nearly around the clock and somehow still finding time to socialize if possible. No wonder I was exhausted!
Still, being tired and being unable to cross that ever evasive finish line aren't exactly the same thing.
Tumble Into Me quickly became the story I knew I had to see it through to the end. It's fiction, of course, but it means the most to me, because I dedicate it to my mother. After losing her to COPD, I found I was able to write through some of my grief, turning it into a heartfelt story that I was truly invested in and I HAD to see this through to the last page.
And yet, that familiar brick wall positioned itself in the middle of my process on a handful of occasions. One of which was so imposing, I didn't even open my laptop for months! I used my breaks at work to complete anything important online, and stayed connected via my smartphone. I couldn't so much as glance at my manuscript.
Soon, I began feeling super upset about that. I was so committed to seeing this one to the end, and yet I couldn't bring myself to put another word on the page; nor to edit another sentence. I figured I was just mentally drained from staring at the manuscript for months <read: years> on end. As it persisted, I knew my age-old problem had resurfaced.
I wondered if I reached the
I wasn't happy about it, and the longer it nagged at me, the more I realized that I couldn't let it win this time. So instead of staring at the scene I had been stuck on for what felt like eternity, I started back at the beginning, re-reading the story I thoughtfully constructed. I felt proud of the words on the page; of the characters I'd created and the more I read, the more recharged and refocused I felt. This time, when I reluctantly reached that snag, without time to consider the two parts of this story I desperately needed to connect, words seeped out of my fingers tips onto the page. Suddenly the scene I thought I'd never create, seemingly wrote itself, perfectly connecting the first two thirds of the story with the last segment. As soon as this happened, I knew this was it. I was finally going to finish the damn book!
It felt so damn good! SO good, in fact, I went right into participating in the Pitch Madness Twitter Pitch Party and pitched my heart out. As I type this now, I'm still in disbelief at the amount of interest I had this time compared to March. A landslide of a difference, to be frank. And, as usual, tears instantly prickled my eyes. I know I couldn't have reached the end of this story, without my driving force, my motivation and inspiration, my mom. But not being able to share these exciting moments of a budding author, is really difficult. I miss her so much and hope in the not too distant future, to share these stories with you in dedication, and in memory, of her.
For those of you feeling stuck, in your story, or in life...just like that kindergarten Bear Hunt song suggests: If you can't go around it, and can't climb over it; sometimes the only thing left to do, is climb through it.
Is there a habit, in writing or otherwise, you'd like to break in the fast approaching new year? Please share. :)
Here's too conquering walls - one brick, and one habit, at a time.