Over the Hump
Yesterday was Wednesday, and I encountered a hump in my writing.
I woke this morning and knew I'd still be facing it. I went to sleep last night--or rather didn't, tossing and turning--fretting over the absolute blank I had drawn, by the end of the day, regarding where my story was going next. I'm quite familiar with these blanks, so they have the power to scare me in the way that only a recurrent ghost can. At their worst, they signal the total breakdown of plot, the moment when it becomes patently clear one had only the lightest grip on the thread of the story--and now have gone and lost it. At their least terrifying, such blanks turn out to be only momentary pauses, humps that can be hauled across by pulling hard on the ropes. Which simply means bending the legs, sitting down.
I got up this morning and sat down, nervously.
Here's the thing, and it's something we sometimes forget to tell ourselves and each other, though we should,over and over again: the words themselves are the way across. It sounds so obvious, doesn't it? And yet.
We do not always have to know "where our story is going next." We do not have to regard the hump in the road as anything more than a place to begin typing again. Really. One of the things I cherish most about writing, and the creative process itself, is the ability of the medium to suggest the path. I'm sure you know what I mean by this. You have no idea what's supposed to happen next. Gulp. The hump looms in front of you, a great shadowy roadblock. You sit down. You swallow. And simply write something. Anything. All right. It's not much, but it's movement. The beginning of the long climb. Suddenly you look at a word you've just typed rather casually. It suggests something to you. What? What if? What if this is what happens next? Now you heave, put your shoulder and back into it, nudging the serendipitous sentence on. You write. You write some more. Good lord, momentum. The thing is being done, the horizon is coming into view again, the way is clear, or at least as far as you can see for now. Which is all that matters.
Let's help each other not to forget. "As far as you can see for now" is good. It's progress. That which is behind us can be put behind us again.
Photo credit: Bruce Barone