I threw a bag of cat poop in the front seat of my car this morning—by accident, I swear*—which was an interesting start to the day.
But that’s okay, not only because I’d remembered to seal the $#!% bag for once, but because I’m still flying high over the write I had yesterday. It was one of those times—which lately have been few and far between, let me tell you—when the words arrived in a flood and I just tried to sop them up as fast as I could with whatever paper or pixels I had handy.
It didn’t start out that way. In fact, this particular chapter has been kicking my rear for a while, even when it was the Final Moment of a Monster Giant Info Dump Get Everything Over With Before I Lose My Mind How Many Character Arcs Do I Have Please God Don’t Let That Be A Deus Ex Machina Chapter.
You know the one, right?
And I’ve been working through it, reorganizing and back-planting clues and kicking rugs over trap doors and cutting wires all that, hoping this last bit would play nice and be the natural outcome, logically and logistically, of the rest . . . but it’s been looking more like unpainted plywood propped up against a ragged hole in the drywall. It works, but it isn’t really part of the whole, and I wasn’t sure how to fix it or if I should fix it or tear down that ratzen-fratzen wall again and start over.
But I’m stubborn, and I had some unexpected time, and banging my forehead against solid, subconscious surfaces has started to feel perhaps just a little too good to me, so I tried again.
But before I tried again, I checked my blogfeeds and saw that Janet Reid had posted a video of Elizabeth Gilbert, she of Eat, Pray, Love.** Since I rarely pass up an excuse for twenty minutes of not-writing, especially when sanctioned by Ms. Reid, I watched it:
I thought about all this for a few minutes.
Then I opened up the Problem Chapter, copied it to a new document, squinted at the light fixture and said, “Okay, I’m here. Where the hell are you?” and waded back into the fray.
Not so many sentences later, a character stepped up to tell me he’d better have a reason for saying something so stupid and the next wondered why she wasn’t pissed off at him for saying it, if he was gonna say it. Someone else mentioned that they wouldn’t know what they were talking about, yet, and another one just whined about what I was about to do to her in the next chapter.*** Which is when the the guy who had been giving me absolute fits just cleared his throat, folded his arms, and grinned at me, waiting for me to get it.
And I got it. I GOT IT.
I don’t know if creativity is on the inside or the outside, or if I challenged a muse, a genius, the voices in my head, or the ceiling. And who to praise or blame if this book works . . . or doesn’t.
All I know is, I showed up and I did my job and the words were there. And after I saved the document—in four different places, including my First Reader’s Inbox—and powered down, I said, “Whew! Thanks. Tomorrow at nine good for you?”
I might have heard a quiet sigh of exasperated fondness.
But you know, that light fixture has been giving me sass from day one.
*I was juggling my purse—or, as the rest of the family calls it, What On Earth Do You Have In Here? (answer: all of the stuff all of you need and don’t want to carry)—a six-pack of diet Pepsi bottles, and the plastic bag of fresh kitty litter scoopings. On the way to the garbage can, I decided to sling my stuff in the car so I wouldn’t drop anything . . .
**Which I’ll confess I haven’t read yet. I get stubborn with Must-Reads, but I will be picking it up once I’m sure I won’t automatically see Julia Roberts when I read it. I really have no problems with Ms. Roberts, except in this role, and it’s not her fault that she’s so incredibly unlike me that I had a total suspension of disbelief fail the moment I saw the poster. I blame a society that makes it an act of incredible bravery for a woman who is not Hollywood Perfect to be seen eating ice cream in public, but I digress . . .
***That actually meant I was on the right track, since I never liked her anyway and she deserves it.