I’d practically given up waiting. I’d moved on and was sure, absolutely damn positive that I would probably never finish a project and that I would never, ever have an idea good enough to actually see through beyond the opening few pages.
I’ve got nearly 20 stories that are in the fledgling stages. I do openings exceptionally well, I can hook with the best of them. I can get characters to the point where I know them so well that if I had the technology I could actually make them into real people with a history and a family.
But then what?
I always start out the same, I get the hook, I build the people and I start writing. Let the fabulously well-rounded characters do the work and just let the story tell itself. That works pretty well for about five chapters.
But then what?
I’ll tell you what – nothing. Writer’s block, boredom, confusion, disillusionment. My inability to ever be able to plan where a story ends has been such a long-term affliction that I’d just accepted it as my process. Well my process sucks. Without an ending my brilliant characters and my wondrous hook are all for nothing, they just become like people in the real world, wandering aimlessly towards their dying day just trying to make sense of a non-existent plot.
Not having really finished anything other than three or four short stories in my entire writing career has led me to the last few months of my life. Barren, completely devoid of imagination, or even the inclination to be remotely creative. So I’d given up. Perhaps I’d come back to it in my dotage and savour my regret then. I was quite looking forward to getting all bitter and twisted over it actually.
Alas, that was not to be my fate. My subconscious took over and had the god damn audacity to pull a Stephenie Meyer on me. Bastard subconscious.
I know there’s been a lot of speculation about Meyer’s claim that Twilight came to her in a dream, and I for one have never bought it, and I still would have been doubtful without the plagiarism claims. I’ve never believed anyone who said they dreamt a story. I’ve never kept a note pad and pen by my bed to scribble down the outline of my next best seller.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is a knowledge that dreams are based upon and built around what and whom we encounter during our waking hours. My dreams are always in colour and, no matter how random and bizarre, the ones I remember always contain people I know. How can I write a fictional story about people I know? Even if those people are folk I haven’t seen or heard from in a decade?
Well, last night I woke at 3am gasping for breath, just the same way the people in my dream were gasping for breath. It wasn’t realistic, it wasn’t in full colour, there was no one I knew in it and I knew it was not influenced by anything I had ever encountered.
I was most annoyed at my subconscious this morning at 3.04am when I was scrabbling through drawers in our house looking for a damn pen and scribbling the end of my fading dream onto the back of an envelope. However, as I rearranged the quilt after returning to bed and thought over the scrawl on the envelope I had an epiphany. I’d dreamt up the sepia, tragic, 1940’s end to a story.
No hook, no strong characters other than a vague realisation that it closes on two faces (one if which was the face of a really obscure actor; don’t ask me why, I haven’t the foggiest). I had an ending. There’s really no excuse for not finishing this, how can I say I don’t know where it’s going when my first thought was how it ended?
So, just like that, the funk is over. I was reading an article recently that posed the question ‘are you meant to be a writer?’ I guess this proves I’m meant to be doing this. Why else would I have a dream that sparked such a need to clear the floor and scribble plans over massive sheets of paper?
The real me, the one that knows it isn’t good enough to just give in to a block and nurse a bitter grudge ready for when I am a crazy old lady that the neighbours’ kids throw things at. Inside me, at my very core, I am a creative being who needs to write. I guess I just needed my core to wake up and tell me that.
Now, where did I leave those huge sheets of paper? I’m sure the boss won’t mind me spreading out in her office…