Blank. Vacant. Meaningless.
Those three words describe the current situation with my latest WIP. This will be the fourth book I’ve written – if I ever get it done. I felt like this with the last one too, and I did finish it, so yay, consolation there, right? Meh, sort of.
What’s different is, I’ve run up against a new problem I’ve not encountered before; what is the story? What am I writing about? I haven’t the faintest idea. I still love the setting. I still love the working title. I just can’t seem to get my act together, and it’s starting to get a little worrisome.
Here’s what I want. I want to be buried so deep I can’t see anything else but where the storyline is going next. I want to drift around the house with that perpetual little wrinkle between my eyebrows, as I worry over a particular plot point. I want my fingers to strike the keyboard fast as they can and still not be able to keep up. I want to STOP pecking out a few words only to delete them. I want to stop feeling like the ideas are all a waste of time. I want to stop thinking I have nothing left.
I’ve sat on quite a few ideas, for days, weeks even. I started to write, only to trash all within a day or two – usually as soon as I go back and re-read what I have the next day. Two months ago, I was ten thousand words in on one lame idea, and it just didn’t feel right. I think what I mean is, I wasn’t excited. What actually went through my head was, “God, this is a stupid story.” If I’m not excited, how could anyone else feel that way?
Since then, I’ve play around with several other beginnings, only to get about two to three thousand words in, and I’m like, “nah.” I’ve had so many false starts at this point, my folder for the new project has racked up discarded bits and pieces of this and that, just like the donated clothing bin over on Highway 421 with its overflowing trash bags of shoes, sweaters, pants,and coats. I think I even saw someone’s red negligee fluttering in the wind. In typical fashion, I think, ah, there’s a story there. And the brain cells dry up.
I’ve questioned if I’ve pigeon holed myself by choosing this particular place to write about. I don’t think so. It’s a swampy area, and the perfect place for something suspenseful to happen. But what?
Part of my relentless doubt about my new story’s beginning is because recently, I was blown away by a random encounter with an opening line of a story that grabbed me, and held on. In my mind, it’s one of the best I’ve ever read.
“The boy was on fire.”
This is how THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY by Shaun Hutchinson begins. The book is not in a genre I would typically read, (LGBT YA), but I found myself absorbed instantly in the story. Much like the last post, the writing once again only underscored the point that if the story is good enough, if it pulls a reader in and keeps them intrigued, it’s a story worth writing, a story worth telling. It has heart. It has tension filled moments. It has a MC I want to get to know better. I want to know how he ended up where he was, and what might happen to him.
If I didn’t know it before, I know it now. This is why I’m still searching. It’s why I haven’t yet found what I want to write about because until I’ve got something that snags at my heart strings the way the beginning of this story did, it does no good to start and stop. If I have any confidence at all, it’s in the fact I recognize this and know it’s all part of the process.
It will happen – eventually.
Bottom line, I really just want a story worth telling, don’t you?