Chasing Inspiration

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Wall

It was fantastic! The story was gelling, the characters working with me instead of arguing incessantly with each other and fighting my every thought and request. Images were dancing across the page - lush gardens heavy with plot twists and turns, the rich perfume of creativity gliding through the air and enveloping the computer monitor. It was a perfect writing moment, harmonious and brilliant.

And then it happened. That thing all writers dread. The garden dried and withered to dust and I was left with nothing more than a hard and barren courtyard hemmed in on all sides by walls. Tall, slippery walls. You know the type. You can't scale them. You can't jump up and grab the top and muscle your way over them. They block the sun and keep you prisoner there in that dry, barren place. Empty. Helpless. Alone.

Days crawled by and still the words didn't come. I was stuck in that desolate shell of a garden, no relief in sight.

I looked about my home office and my gaze settled on a picture of an almost forgotten moment. The 2001 RWA national conference in NYC had been of those moments in time where everything moved in slow motion, with precision and ease. All the pieces fit, all the colors blended and my drive to write was reconfirmed over and over again. The picture was of one of my writing goddesses and myself just after she gave an informal chat at the hotel bar. It was in that moment that she shared some of her writing successes, her writing schedule and the things she would do to overcome writer's block - consistency and going back to the time when you and the writing were a single entity and all was right with the world.

I visualized a day everything was humming along - how I was sitting, what music was playing, whether I had my water fountain on or not. I imagined the emotions that flowed through me as the story had appeared as if by magic from my fingers to the screen. I set a timer, turned on the music, made sure the fountain was full of water, sent forth a silent prayer and breathed.

Then I closed my eyes, placed my fingers on the keyboards and invited, no begged my heroine to tell me what she was about to do next.

Slowly, painfully so, letters formed words, words sentences and sentences mated to become coherent thoughts. By the time my timer went off an hour later there were complete pages on my monitor. 10 of them to be exact. I went back and read, cringing at the stilted thoughts. It was rubbish. All that work for nothing.

Then I looked again, and there just beneath the rubble was a vine. A small and tiny vine barely peeking above the cracked clay at my feet. Life! I followed that vine, nurtured and encouraged it for about another hour and was rewarded with tiny, fragile flowers of story. By the time the boy came home from work I had about 4 pages of something worth keeping and some loose ideas of things to come.

I write this in my blog so I can come back and remember that I don't have to wait for fickle Lady Muse to visit me. No, I can chase her, grab hold of her ankles and laugh at her shocked look as I dive head first into a story she keeps telling me can't be written without her. Take that, Lady Muse!

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