In a time of a lot of uncertainty, waiting on all matters of things (both personal and professional) to right themselves, I’m feeling at peace inside my own stories. When the freelance work doesn’t call, I find myself with pockets of time to lose myself in the real work (a shift in thinking from a time when I thought only the paying work was the real work) of trying to tell a story.
I have to work hard at this. Maybe I can kite-run off with a pretty sentence every now and then but, beyond that, I learn my limits every day. I have to fight to find a plot. I have characters that arc into broken rainbows, no pot of gold at their ends. I struggle to find rhythm. I forget the point I’m trying to make, if I ever had one to begin with.
But I’m learning, every day, to put my faith in the process and recognize that, for me, that process is going to be very messy and long. I used to think I was losing time. I used to think, without a book deal or an agent, I was lost in some writing blackhole, never to find my way out. But, a few weeks ago, I had a nice conversation with a writer who simply said in a voice so mild and zen I thought maybe I’d found God, “What’s the rush? It’ll happen someday.”
What is the rush? I don’t know.
So I sit somewhere between the possibility of someday and the reality of now.
The reality of now is, maybe, a little harsher than I’d like. But, in terms of writing, now is a process and ‘someday’ relies on it. I have wrestled with so many things inside stories, tried to bend characters and plots to my will, let them all go their very-wrong-ways and turned around again and again.
Maybe this is what I love about writing, the practice of it, the mess of it, being in a place where there are a million second chances, a million possibilities for a plot or a person or a relationship. Sara Zarr spoke in her This Creative Life podcast in an interview with John Corey Whaley about a tweet that made her recognize a possible reason she writes to begin with: it may be the only place she has any control at all.
I related to that.
This morning I decided to take two characters and make them one and I laughed, because I had to, because the only place it’s possible for that to happen is while writing fiction, or maybe when a twin is absorbed in utero, I don’t know (I’ll leave that to the science fiction writers). Maybe it’s a bad idea. Maybe it’s a good one. It’s a possibility, at least. And whether it’s good or bad – I can live with the consequences. Either I move forward or I try again. While in process, there’s always another way to go.