The Bridge Between Stuck and Unstuck

5.14 Blog PhotoIn the midst of writing a new scene for the Young Adult novel I’m currently revising, one of the characters unexpectedly popped out with the advice above.  The character who says this just so happens to be known in the town as a Wise One, and these words are her attempt to console the protagonist, who is upset that no one will give her access to information she feels she desperately needs.

“Huh,” I thought to myself as I reread the words.  “That IS wise.”

It just so happened, in that art imitates life imitates art kind of way, that I need that advice just as much as my protagonist did.  I’d been revising this novel since January, you see, and there I was at the beginning of May still working on Chapter Two.  There were two reasons for this.  One, I run a large theatre education program, and depending on the time of year that program can sometimes dominate my time and energy.  But what writer doesn’t fight that war between the energy needed to write and the energy needed to…well, do everything else?  No, what was really stuck in my craw on this particular day was the second reason: the beginning of this novel is getting a huge overhaul.  A ‘take-the-engine-completely-apart-and-pray-you-can-put-it-back-together-again’ kind of overhaul.  The kind of revision that is just the pits while you’re doing it, but that makes you feel like queen of the world when you go back and see what an amazing difference all those changes made to the story as a whole.

Even though I knew this agonizing process would be more than worth it come the end, the problem was that I thought I’d just have to overhaul the first two chapters.  I was wrong. Only minutes before I’d written the wise words above, I had looked ahead to Chapter Three and realized that the changes I made meant that I’d have to completely rework Chapter Three, and probably at least half of Chapter Four, too.

Two more chapters of this slow-paced agony, seriously?  Just like my protagonist, all I could think about was my desperation to get to the good part of the process, the easy part, the part where I had everything I needed and I could see the reward of all my efforts waving at me from the finish line. When I reread the words above, I realized I needed to apply them to myself. I couldn’t change the fact that the next two chapters were likely going to be just as challenging and take just as long as the first two. So there was no point to spinning my mental and emotional wheels on it anymore. What I really had to focus on was the same question that my protagonist asked herself – what can I change?

Welcome to the answer!

This site is my change. Once upon a time, I crafted a glorious timeline to keep myself on task, and it included building a virtual presence over the summer. What I realized after reflecting on my frustrations a few weeks ago was that it wasn’t just the slow pace of these revisions that was bugging me. It was the complete solitude of the process that was also bringing me down. And so, voilà!  I now have a mechanism to share experiences, to share my work, and to share my resources with you.

Thank you for being a part of the thing I could change – the heavy weight of revision is feeling lighter already.

– mae

 

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