Every year at this time, my little family takes a break from work and school and goes on a church-sanctioned trip somewhere that we get to choose. Some years we go to the beach (my preference), sometimes to the mountains (my husband’s), and sometimes we stay close to home due to circumstances beyond our control. This is another beach year, our third time at our present destination. Our eldest is a senior in high school and this is the place all his summer camp friends were gathering, so since it is our last time with all our kids to go with us, we let him choose.
So how does all this equal writing? Well, the spouse and kids leave me every day for a couple hours and do the church thing over across the bridge on the other side of the resort. I stay here, in our 7th-floor condo overlooking the ocean, and write, mostly by hand with a fountain pen into a cheetah print notebook someone sent me last year as part of a Halloween craft swap. I have been doing writing exercises from various favorite writing books and writing a few poems and just generally shaking out the cobwebs from my brain.
When the family comes back, we go out for walks along the beach, swim in the ocean, laze by the pool reading books, snark about the internet, and sometimes meet up with others and have escapades. We do not really worry about time or location this trip. Since it is our third time here, we have done all the things worth doing and gone on the dolphin watching trips, and shopped in all the little boutiques that are still open in the off-season. We are just relaxing this trip.
And that has been helping the writing flow…
Yesterday I went through all the half-novels, unfinished short stories, and other writings in my giant folder of Writing from the last 20 years and made a list of where I stopped in each and every case. Because I always stop before I am done with a story. I never, ever finish one. Oh, I have endings written, I just don’t carry through on the other bits…and I wanted to see what those stumbling blocks were.
In the beginning, it was actually writing that got me stopped. I outlined, wrote character sketches, started world building. I wrote a couple scenes within each story and an ending and then stopped and moved on to another idea.
Ten years ago, I would write and write without an outline. I had beginnings, middles, ends, but no transition scenes and no climax written.
In the last five years, I was outlining, world building, character sketching. and writing stories chronologically as they came in the novels, but then quit just as the climax of the novel came. I’d skip over it, then write a quick ending, and move on to the next book.
So looking back at my lists, I see a pattern: I don’t know how to write the climax scenes. I was talking about it with an indulgent friend who lets me talk about everything and in talking I realized that that is the part of books that when I’m reading them, I skim through them. I want to know the ending so bad that I don’t pay close attention to how they got there. I just want the end. And I’m like that in real life as well; if there is any way I can avoid a conflict, I will.
So now I know what I need to to work on. I am spending this morning going through all the writing books I own to find sections on writing climaxes and if I don’t find anything (I haven’t so far in 4 books), I will go out an buy another book. Anyone have any suggestions?
I know, you’ve forgotten I exist, or I’ve forgotten I exist, or something like that.
Last time I wrote here (a year and a half ago. Yipes!), I was starting Novel in 90. It went really well, I nearly finished that novel, I started outlining for the next, life was going well. Then school ended, several financially horrifying things happened in real life, and we spent a LOT of time trying to repair that situation. I did spend quite a bit of last fall writing and then dropped off in the new year again. I took a lot of time off to crochet and cross stitch and then end of the year PTA stuff took over. The summer was busy, filled with trips to Nashville and Wisconsin and summer camps and family reunions and prepping kids for new schools and one for his senior year of high school.
Last week hit hard with a new medical diagnosis (which I will write more on later); it was that kind of thing where you look at your life and go “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!? I HAVE ALL THESE THINGS I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH AND I NEED TO STOP WASTING TIME AND START NOW!!” The biggest thing: WRITING.
So this week I am starting back to basics with writing. Yesterday I spent my “writing time” listening to podcasts about writing prep work, reading articles about getting your writing mojo back, and generally just dipping my toes in the water. This morning I installed Scrivener on the new computer (another one died last year) and am working my way through the tutorial for a refresher course and this afternoon I am doing a NANOWRIMO Prep Write-In.