So I’m working with some of my writing colleagues on an anthology of short stories.
We agreed on a common theme to give the stories context and cohesion, and the ideas were brilliant and coming fast and furious. As anyone who belongs to one knows, the best thing about being in a writers’ group is it inspires you to hunker down to your own work. As soon as they come up with ideas out loud, you find yourself spurred to create and contribute your own. So many ideas – it whets the appetite of the imagination.
I made an outline; I made notes. Copious notes. Dialogues. I could see the characters in my head, I could imagine where they lived, the routes they moved along on. The words came, the pages filled up.
But then I stalled.
I had two great scenes in my head, and I could not get them to quite mesh together. The story seemed to drag on, getting nowhere.
I tried re-writing, rearranging paragraphs, moving sentences. Nothing was gelling. I began to worry about making the first deadline. And the more I worried, the blanker my mind was when I sat in front of the keyboard. It was agonizing. Writer’s Block, I thought. It happens to everyone from time to time.
Days grew into weeks and I had no ideas how to close. I was beginning to feel a bit desperate.
I wish I could say the obvious conclusion came to me on my own, but it didn’t.
It wasn’t until I chanced to meet up with another writer pal that the light dawned.
She was discussing her latest work and casually noted how she was working on two very different projects at the same time. I asked her how she was able to switch tracks like that. She shrugged and explained that she was actually enjoying the dichotomy of submersing herself into the two completely different plots and lives of characters.
Suddenly it all made sense.
It probably seems obvious to you, dear reader, but I never thought there were two stories running around in my brain. No wonder they would not merge. I was so fixated on getting the short story done, that I couldn’t see there were two story lines perfectly happy to be coexisting, waiting for me to work it out.
Of course once I had my “Huh. Didn’t see that coming,”moment, it all fell into place. I was able to carry on with the writing.
Hopefully I’ll remember this particular lesson about the wonder and beauty of a writer’s imagination: sometimes there are two roads you can wander down – at the same time.