Missing pieces, filled in plots

I’m not sleeping much these days. It kind of sucks. But I did get that missing piece of inspiration that was missing from the Selkie thing. I think I’ve actually plotted out my typical twenty eight day cycle between finishing something and starting something new. The first two weeks are a complete write-off. I’m usually absolutely convinced that I’m never, ever going to write anything again, ever. My poor wife strokes the back of my head and makes the appropriate “there-there” sounds. But during those two weeks, I’m absolutely convinced I am completely empty and there’s nothing more to say.

Then an idea comes. It used to be a character, but now sometimes it’s an event or a plot point or even just a cool setting. But only one idea comes. And no matter how much I squint at it, try to write something, or try to stretch it into more, it just doesn’t come. It’s like pulling taffy that’s already cold and set.

So, I wait. And in the next two weeks (or three, if I’m not sleeping) I get a flash of something else. And then something else. And then something else. A first chapter needs an interesting character in an interesting world with an interesting problem. Only two of those aren’t enough. It has to be all three. Last night, the interesting world came. The Selkie thing was supposed to be set in Salem, it’s now in Victoria. So now I have a setting and a character.

I’ve always had the problem, but I suddenly realized that the exciting part of the story, the interesting choice and the huge fall-out had already happened when I tried to start the story where I had. No matter how many times I tried to write the scene, it just didn’t go. I backed up the story so that the decision that was already made becomes the decision that has to be made, and presto, I have my starting place.

And now I’m quivering to write.

I respect those people who insist that writing needs to be done every day. They’re far more disciplined than I ever will be. I can’t write unless I have my beginning, and I’m willing to wait until my brain sorts that beginning out.

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