Walk With Me.

JUNE 1, 2010 6:22AM

The Soul Wants What the Soul Wants - Beating the Block

Rate: 15 Flag



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…



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Congratulations! An important step for you. Love the way you describe it.
Oh wow! That's fantastic *grins* Congratulations and happy writing.
Excellent, excellent!
I had a feeling something big was going on. Glad to know you have found an idea that has you scrambling for paper. Go Kirsty!
Annaliese - Thanks! It's a huge step, one I though I'd actually never hit.

Hourglass Figure - I feel utterly relieved. Thanks for the congratulations.

Owl - You know what, it truly is!

Buffy - I think the idea found me, and it will be a challenge as it is completely out of my normal 'zone' as a writer.
Now that you have an ending, you can plot the course from the middle, or wherever you are in the story, and the end. story board it with little doodles.

Just write. Be wild and creative. It doesn't have to make sense, so long as it gets from A to Z, then you can clean up the middle when you're there.

My process is nearly identical, and this is how I handle things

Of course I've never finished anything either, so make of it as you will LOL
Many of my short stories begin life as a dream I had. Maybe I'm weird, but often I dream these dreams that unfold like a story and I KNOW during the dream that I am dreaming and will even rewrite parts of the story as I dream so that by the time I wake up....I have a fullblown short story ready to type.

Good luck with your own dream, I know you can do it and do it well.
sounds like you had an epiphany of the best kind! good for you. we'll expect to hear more about this many-chaptered piece that now has an ending.

a hint that works for me: i may have several short short pieces in the works at any one time, but i never start a second long one until the first is finished. i find it's distracting and actually self-defeating. good luck, kirsty!
that's great!

I found than not one of my creative writing classes ever taught story structure, they're all so focused on style. It wasn't until I took a screenwriting class that I learned how to do plots - beginning, middle and end. I highly recommend to every writer that they take a screenwriting class. It will help with all forms of writing, even poetry.
I knew it! Although I've never dreamed anything but weird things, I always thought you "could" dream of writing something. I know Paul McCartney swears he wrote "Yesterday" after getting up from a dream. I'm going to bed, later~~
Should I be concerned you're dreaming of obscure actors and not me? I'm glad you found your inspiration to write again. I'll try not to step on any large sheets of paper you leave laying around the house.
Hurray!! :D

"I’ve never kept a note pad and pen by my bed to scribble down the outline of my next best seller. "

I thought about it myself but never have, I've had some grand dreams that would have made grand stories, but by the time I get to the ole computer to write it down, it's gone!! :( ~Grin~
Good on you, Kirsty! Exciting news and bye-bye block!
Excelllent, Kirsty, that must be a big relief like coming out of the desert into green meadows. I get my best ideas in a state between consciousness and sleep- if I'm too tired to grab a pencil and paper instantly, out of my mind they go. Then I kick myself in te morning.
Placebostudman - Thanks for the tips! I'm really looking forward to just going with this one knowing where it's actually going!

Tor - I wish I could do that, have everything drafted and ready to go before I even woke up. I guess I'm going to have to do a bit more waking work lol.

Femme - Thanks, I'll keep in mind being faithful to one piece and stay away from my other projects until this one is in the mail to publishers!

ttfn - my writing class tried to teach structure, bt it never made much sense beyond a beginning, a middle and an end. Like, how do you decide where those things are?! lol.

Scanner - I never believed it until it happened to me, and from a deep sleep too, not a half a wake moment!

Ger - the cat's might not keep the same promise though... lol.

Tink - Time for us to both invest in a bedtime note book I think!

Unbreakable - Thanks! I'mglad to see the back of it to be honest.

Fusun - I wish this happened to me on a more regular basis!
welllll...object, obstacle, outcome. Someone wants something, something's in the way, they either get it or not. It can be as simple as as getting the last piece of pie or wanting the gold at the Olympics. If your character has no conflict and everything is handed to them on a platter, then it's not much of a story. It's the conflict, the desire, that we find fascinating. I would say the story begins when the character realizes that they want something and it ends when they have a result. The stuff that occurs before and after those points are prelude and postlude. Also, a story doesn't have to occur in exactly a linear fashion, but it will still have an arc, nonetheless. The best example I can give is the movie "Pulp Fiction", which occurs not linearly, but if you map out a timeline of events, you will see that it is created linearly and has a simple arc. There are other ways to tweak this - a conclusion can be absurd, but the absurdity has to have a meaning. An example of how an absurd ending doesn't work is when a kid tells a story and when they get bored and don't know how to end it, they'll say "then everybody died." It's absurd and has no meaning. (Writing students often do this by saying at the end of the story, "and then I woke up")
Excellent! Finished it yet? ;)
I know the feeling about writers block. It's a total bastard at times. I write a fan fiction story that's been tootling along for years now - until in November last year when I was hit by the worst bout of writers block I can ever remember. The story sat in my brain for the next 5 months and refused to make its way out. I finally forced myself to work on it, but I wasn't that happy with what emerged.
So - good luck!