At last!!! Oh my; such freedom! Such a sense of fresh air! Who ever knew that Writer's Block for 16 months could feel so stifling! Yes, my Readers, that's right - I have been stuck on my story for sixteen months - maybe fifteen. Since last September; you guys do the mathematics. In any case, that's a long time. My brain went into hiberation for the last few quarters of college in order to survive. Deep hiberation. I've been reading during that whole time, which is good; I need my reading time as well as my writing time. But after 4 months, I was feeling really lonely. And stagnant. And depressed. And just . . . sad.
Now? I don't really know what caused it this time. I was listening to the soundtrack for The Duchess and Oliver Twist (Rachel Portman is an amazing composer) while alternating between reading Flame-Colored Taffeta by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Something about that combination, I guessed, joggled my brain out of its hiberation, and I decided to start working on a few minor changes to my story. In went the soundtrack for A Series of Unfortunate Events. Minor edits led to bigger edits, and then I hit my stuck place again. But rather than backing down and moping like I used to, I glared my story in the eye and told it, "Now look here, my dear fellow, this simply won't do any longer. You've had your holiday, and I've had mine. And now I want to work on you some more. And I can't if you keep stubbornly refusing to tell me what I need to know! I may write mysteries and I may be a Sherlockian and therefore an amateur detective in my own right, but not even Sherlock Holmes could solve a case without data. Give me data or I'll go work on some other story. And I do mean it this time."
For years, my philosophy has always been if a story says no, don't push it. And generally this is a very good idea. Listen to the story; it will tell you what you need to know when it's ready, and no sooner. But I've discovered something about stories that you are almost done writing: they get stubborn. They see the end nearing and they don't want to part company. Stories are loving to writers who listen to them, but stories are also jealous of other stories (at least, mine are). Even when I type THE END on this fourth draft of my story, I'll still have lots of editing to do, but in general, I will be done with it. I'll be able to turn my attention to other stories. I've spent a good six or seven years with this particular story; maybe longer. I'm close to it, and it's close to me. And it doesn't want me to be done with it. So it's not telling me what I need to know so I can finish it. It's times like these than a writer must be firm. My story continued to refuse to tell me anything, so I kept going at it at different angles, and I got one of my sounding board out, otherwise known as a friend, to test ideas out on (thanks, Hazel! You're a terrific sounding board! ;)
Now, I am not yet 100% certain if I have hit all of the bricks in The Wall to make it crumble so I can press on, but I am confident that I am oh so close. And now I've got the soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes going to keep my concentration level up (wish I had the soundtrack to A Game of Shadows as well; it has some lovely klemzer). In any case, I think I've solved it! The story has, I'll admit, taken some new turns that I wasn't expecting (that's part of the fun of writing a mystery!), but I am excessively pleased with it. Oh, and those of my Readers who have had the privilege of reading my manuscrips and think that Murtagh and Ivy are going to become romantically involved (I shudder at the thought, as do my characters) - well, with the new twists I've put in, that would be extremely awkward if they did. Let's just say while Victorians were okay with cousins marrying each other, I am not, nor are my characters.
Hopefully I'll have more to report soon!