Thirty in Thirty Day 26: The Mysteries of a Writer’s Mind
Every once in a while I think I have this writing thing figured out. ( Bear with my hubris for just a moment. It doesn’t last long.)
I’ll have a story idea, sit down at the computer, and things will flow in the direction I have in mind. Easy-peasy. I high-five the muse and we both share a smug little smile.
But, it’s a trap and a snare. You would think by now I would be wary after such a serendipitous event and wait for the other shoe to drop. The problem is that writers, out of necessity, are optimistic (read: deluded) creatures. If we weren’t how could we keep going?
The point of all of this is that the ideal writing session described above is a rarely seen creature indeed, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.
Usually I start with an idea or a character and no matter what I do they won’t behave and stick to the script. What I’ve found is that if I try to force the issue they pack their bags and sneak off or play dead. My pleas about my great plan do no good.
The only way to avoid a total defection is to allow the character or idea to go off in whatever direction they choose. My job is to forget my preconceived notions, tag along, and make notes.
This is essentially what happened yesterday as I began Part 2 of a story I am calling “The Key.” ( see Day 22 and Day 25 of Thirty in Thirty).
When I wrote Part 1 about a woman receiving a key from a mysterious old man, I envisioned a fantasy involving a quest, magic, and high adventure with Annie as the protagonist.
Yesterday, however, Annie’s memories revealed an entirely different story involving the beginning of The Infinity Club, a group of junior high misfits. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I tried to steer Annie back toward my vision, but she had a different purpose in mind. When she revealed her disability I was caught off guard. I sensed anger and pain that I had not expected.
At that point it was as if she looked and me and said, “ Ok. Now do something with this.” Then she folded her arms and refused to divulge anything else.
I wisely stopped writing and told her I would be back when she was ready. I requested her permission to publish what I had written and that was that.
I hope Annie shows back up soon. I have a lot of questions.
In the meantime, I have other projects to work on.
The mysterious workings of my writer’s brain are what beckon me to my computer each day. The story of Annie and her secret is not an isolated event. It has happened too many times to discount. It can be exasperating, thrilling, and a bit unnerving. Still the anticipation of who will show up and what baggage they will carry keeps me at my desk. It is not a tidy way of working, but it certainly isn’t boring.
When I have talked about this before I have had people look at me with skepticism and reservation. What I am tempted to say is, “If you think that’s weird, you should hear about my dreams.”