Clarity is Looking at the Gap Between Buildings and Thinking, “I Can Make That”

Posted on 19/10/2012 by


Me: I’ve finished the washing. I feel like I’ve accomplished something with the day.
Paul S: Well that’s good.
Me: Yes. Don’t argue.

This week has been something of an exercise in frustration. I’ve been fiddling about with the plot, trying to figure out how much of this backstory I have the time and/or justification to introduce in this book.

It’s odd — with like everything else I’ve ever written I’ve had a great deal more certainty about things. With this one it seems like every possibility I outline for myself has its charms. Which is cool in its way, I mean it opens up the directions that this story — this world — could take. But it means I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m kicking my heels over the edge of a very tall building wondering if I can jump that far.

And every possibility I end up discarding feels like it was wasting my time, distracting me from the real story. Frustrating.

But then sometimes you have a single hour of the day where you’re looking at the next scene. And you might not know yet how it plays out past this point, but just in this moment you line up all the pieces — all the ideas and fragments of text — and all of a sudden it becomes obvious. This belongs, that doesn’t. This happens first, that next. That’s the button on the scene. And then it’s just a matter of sewing the scraps together, shuffling the rejected pieces down to be fitted in later in the story or removed all together. And what you have left is a neat block of text with all your little ideas and fragments of dialogue woven in so naturally that on reading it’s hard to see how they ever existed alone.

Black and white photograph of someone leaping a significant gap between the roofs of two brick buildings.