Friday, November 30, 2012

The Golden Moment

After wallowing in self-absorbed misery over my lack of progress a bright moment finally happened like the summer's sun rising in the east, illuminating what earlier had been obscured, revealing so much that I gasped in wonder at this magical awakening to the single arc that united all these disparate parts of my draft into a unified whole. This new insight tells me what dross to cut and where new material must be added.  The hitherto dark way is now clear, the plot is certain, and the story finally has taken on its own form.

There always is a point in the development of a story where I want to give up, give in, go for long walks, or take up something that doesn't demand so much hard work.  Stories that started off with such promise from a brilliant (so I thought) idea rapidly built into pages upon pages of rambling prose.  The  ideas for scenes came so fast I can barely type fast enough. And then, it happens.  I realize that there are...gaps...plot holes, mischaracterizations, and just silly stuff, of which we will never speak again,  Not bad, think I, and proceed patching here and there, adding a bit of structure, painting over a misstep, pounding some overwrought passage into submission.  I struggle on, trying to wrench plot from the dreck, cutting here and there, letting some parts run on and on and on until fatigue overtakes me.

When I return to my writing anvil I realize that the story isn't very good. In fact, it is horrible, beyond recovery, an absolute travesty that would forever besmirch whatever is left of my good name.  I've wasted hours, days, weeks on something so unworthy that I am ashamed.  There is nothing I can do that can save this piece. Nothing.  I move on to something else, swearing never to return to this time-wasting crap.

That is when the magic happens and the story becomes infused with the light of understanding, of seeing the whole buried within and where it needs to go.  When it happens i go forward with renewed confidence,  seize the draft, and begin writing the story that wanted to be told and not necessarily what I set out to write.

It would be a blessing if this were this to happen only occasionally, but, truth to tell, it happens every damn time I get into a new project.  The longer they are, the worse the depths of my frustration and pain.  It is a sinusoidal wave form of enthusiastic peaks of creativity, the declining slope of struggling to wrest meaning from tedious prose, and finally reaching the depths of despair from which only the golden moments let me rise to the peak satisfaction of a decent, submission-ready manuscript.

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