Friday, January 9, 2009


Dear Manuscript... it's not you, it's me.


No... it's you.

Anytime I've ever been stuck while working on project - blocked, tapped out, bereft, call it what you will - I've always know the reason. It's because something in the story isn't working. I just usually don't know what that 'something' is.

On the surface, everything can be fine. But if I have a "block" I know that, somewhere, way back in the guts, something ain't right. A plot direction, a character choice, a device. It's always something already written that stops me from going further. The proverbial pea under the princess's mattress. It's frustrating because, at that point, you have to go back before you can go forward and that never feels like progress. But unless I do that - unless I go back and find that pea - I know I'm not gonna get a good night's sleep.

So, for me, that's it. I don't have a defined method of doing that, unfortunately. I have no cure. No easy fix. Just the archaeology of sifting through the story layers until I find the spiky bit that's squaring the deal. It's frequently messy work. But sometimes it's necessary. Because sometimes, you get to the source of what's gumming up the works, and you realize that you have to dismantle a whole bunch of what you've already built in order to make the structure sound before you can carry on downstream.

(Yes! I am mixing my metaphors like Tom Cruise in Cocktail with a shaker full of crantinis! I know that!)

I know that's not enormously helpful (my method or my metaphors!)...
Sorry. It's just how it happens for me. YMMV.

One thing I have found to be enormously helpful in facilitating this painful process?


Really. It has the word "dead" in it. Unless you're Douglas Adams (famous for having said "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go past"), they're enormously motivating. Speaking of which, I have one of those whooshing things bearing down on me like a runaway freight train (yay! more metaphors!) so I'm gonna go be unblocked now.


LisaMay said...

LOL great post. I love that Douglas Adams quote!

Jillian Cantor said...

I love it -- mixed metaphors and all!! And it is always the manuscript's fault, isn't it :-).

Maureen Lipinski said...

How about Dear Manuscript:

I thought relationships were supposed to be easy?

Then why does it seem, nearly every time we're together, that you make me want to tear my hair out and scream in horror?