The end is upon us. That’s right, the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day, is just days away. I wish I could say I’m just days away from the official end of my revision work on The Hidden, but I’m not. While summer has been fine, the revision process these last few months has been challenging. I worked on the book consistently, pretty much every weekend, but positive progress wasn’t always to be made. And during this time, I experienced two things that I’ve not encountered before, and both have contributed greatly to missing my self-imposed summer deadline; one is good/bad, and the other is quite interesting but leads to a longer revision time than usual…
First, the good/bad:
In the early days of summer I was excited, I was hyped ‘cause I was gonna hit the book hard, push harder than ever and complete this revision before August, or at worst, by the end of August. But back in May, something changed. I’d be all ready, willing, and feelin’ eager about spending 2 or 4 hours working on the book, and I’d get started, get going, enter the zone and get flying and then, suddenly and without much warning at all, the creative energy flow would simply stop. Just like that, the flow would go from joyfully, fully ON to totally dry and OFF. I’d revise a paragraph or two, or maybe even a page, and then, with most of the writing session time still remaining, BAM!, I’d hit a wall. I tried to restart the engine by taking a quick break before getting back to it, thinking that was all I needed, but when I sat down at my computer again, nada, nil, zilch, nothing. My mind was blank, imagination deserted me and all I could do was brood as I stared at the screen. or play Minesweeper until I finally threw up the white flag and called it a day. This didn’t happen just once, or even twice, but several times, way too many times, in fact.
I called this good/bad because when in the zone, the flow was great. Of course having the switch flipped from bright noonday sun to starless midnight darkness was the opposite of great. A frustrating piss-me-off-er, that’s what it was. It knocked me for a loop, made me doubt the whole writing process, and sometimes even my dream itself, but even so, I kept going and kept trying. I’m glad I did, because this strange, undesirable ON/OFF phenomenon faded eventually, probably sometime in late July or early August, and it gave way to something that still slows me down, but that is also a much more enjoyable and ultimately creative production: the interesting.
I didn’t know this was happening while it was happening, but once I recognized it, I realized it to be a deeper manifestation of something I’d experienced many times before. The best way to describe it is…instead of me editing and revising the story “from on high”, looking down as the writer ordering and shaping his creation, now, I am in it, inside the story, within the scene and the scenery, looking up, and the story itself is whispering to me how to order it, its events, its scenes, characters, etc., based on an overall sense of right connection. Understand? Each part and point in the story is connected to earlier and later parts and points, we all know that. But now, the story is quietly telling me “yea” or “nay” as I touch it up, as I revise the parts and points of its body. No, not in audible words, but via a feeling, or maybe the absence of any other feelings, I don’t know. It’s kind of like when I decorate a Christmas tree: I place each ornament rather randomly, but in a way that elicits a specific, positive vibe that just makes ya say “…yeah…nice…” when you see it. This new, deeper writing submersion is similar to that, and I like it, a lot. I’ve added some depth to the story and the characters (hopefully), and I even deleted some cool scenes because it just felt right to do so, and the deletions did in fact actually add to the story.
And now, the conclusion:
The good/bad is normal; every writer experiences times of high and low creative flow, but how we deal with it, what we gain from it, and how we use the OFF times to further enhance our skills is what matters most. And it is normal for a writer to not only get lost in their works, but also to become one with the story. To not only know the characters but also to know and feel the character of the story itself, and to interact with it in a co-creative partnership. Not all that odd or crazy, right? Normal, right? Chefs do that (http://youtu.be/B02dsLGLw4E?t=1m15s), er, uh, I mean writers, we do that. Right?