Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Quandry

The only way for a writer to learn how to write IS to write. Okay, so I can't come up with a novel idea (in more ways than one) every day. It's not like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Some writers have thousands of would-be manuscripts floating up there in their memory files. Others, like me, don't. I have what might best be described as the occasional epiphany. That is, out of the hundreds of possible scenarios that float through my brain in any given twenty-four hour period, there might be one that sparks my creative juices. Then again, none of those ideas might seem like something I'd want to spend weeks or months mulling over.

I envy the writers who grab onto one of the hundreds of ideas that flicker in their cerebellum and turn it into over one hundred thousand words or so. I've been working on the third book, but no matter what I try or how many times I start and restart, the words on the page look up at me through dead eyes and yawn. I have no desire to write a sleeper, or rather, to write a book that puts me and will inevitably put an agent to sleep.

While I was driving my granddaughter to school today, something flickered dimly. Ah! Cervical cancer, not my own but one of my characters. I smiled. This is it, I thought. Then I dropped the kiddie at the front door of her kindergarten and headed home. By the time, I'd made the left out of the school parking lot, the flicker went completely dead and the smile faded. I've had cervical cancer and I have no desire to revisit the surgeries and chemicals related to the disease. Write what you know, but some things you know are better left buried inside your brain.

Finally, it occurred to me that I could actually write about a whole, sane person. For me, that's an epiphany. By the time I reached my own driveway, the story I currently have in those dusty old document files had mutated into a lively, feisty woman fighting her way through the horrors of nature. There's the ticket, the ticket to the third addition to my persistent hope that one day I'll be published. The third book might work, if number one and number two don't garner the attention of an agent. Book two is far better than book one. If I hold true to form, book three will top two.

Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for me.

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