Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Worth the Wait

So I wrote in June that I was going to stick with the draft, keep moving forward, keep blazing those trails towards the end. No, I'm not done. However, I have now written the heart of the story that I had imagined from the beginning. All of those flashes of scenes and events were finally written. I had not realized how late in the story they would come. But writing them began to make sense of a lot of things that I had set up in the beginning, not knowing exactly where they would lead, only trusting that they would lead ... somewhere. Perhaps to those snapshots of moments I had seen. I had always hoped that, by the time I got to those visions in the story, I would know what to do next.

I got to the place where I needed to write the visions into the story, but I still felt that I did not know what was coming next. I still felt that I did not have the handle on my story that I should. This became my crisis of faith in whether I should go back to the beginning and try to figure it out from there or keep pushing forward into the unknown. Still. The unknown.

In my last post, you would have read that I had decided to stick with it. Keep on the miner's lantern and keep chipping ahead. Over the past two months since, I have written the original visions, and, boy, did they deliver ... the expected and the unexpected.

It is another reminder that just on the other side of when things get the most difficult is the reward for sticking with it, working it out. There is, of course, a time to go back in a story. I think, however, that it is important to sit still long enough to listen to your instincts. If you are not sure what to do, ask yourself, "Am I going back to the beginning for the best of the story or because I am afraid to keep moving forward?"

In this case, if I had gone back, I would not have discovered all that had just revealed itself to me by working hard through this challenge. I would still be wondering what would be the best angles to push toward. I'd still be in the same boat of only being able to see so far ahead and not knowing anymore than before. I have heard before that when you are stuck you are also about to make a breakthrough. I tried to hold onto this as I pushed forward.

I also learned something else, about me as a writer. Facing down this part of the book also meant facing down the reality of whether or not this book had a leg to stand on. I was about to see if all of the work over the years would really lead to someting. I was frightened at this point that I still did not know so many important things so late in my story. Or what felt late to me anyway. I wanted the security of having figured it all out already, seeing the whole story clearly. Yet, there I was on the threshhold of writing the visions that I had seen from the beginning, and I was ready to back away. It was the most exciting and potent moment, and I was about to run. In hindsight, I see that had I feared that the visions that I had followed all this time would turn out to be no good, that the story was a bust.

Going back to the beginning, in this case, would have only created more fear as I still would not have climbed that mountain, tested the worth of what I had been following for so long. I would have created only more fear and frustration and no doubt ennui with my own work. It probably would have been that much harder the second time I reached this same place in the story.

Well, like I said, I wrote it, I pushed forward, and it was worth it. I faced down my fear that what I have been working on for years might be crap. Standing on the peak now, I can see so much more than I could before and I know how to rewrite the beginning when I go back too. It is a very exciting prospect to work on it with a clear eye on the ending. I look forward to it. It is motivation. It is what I have hoped for all along. Now, the beginning no longer represents to me a place to hide. But a place to return with full energy.

Something big happened here by not going back to the beginning and instead continuing my slow chipping away in the dark. I busted through, not only the story but also my fear of facing my own ability.

So the next time you are tempted to go back and start from the beginning--before you have written the end--just ask yourself if it is really in the best interest of the story (it might be) ... or just a place to take cover.

Hugs, C

Powered by Blogger