Humility. And Squid.

Writing can be an exercise in humility. When I first set out to write my current story, I was overwhelmed by ideas. The story haunted me for two years before I set anything down on paper. I had so many ideas crashing around in my head
that any attempts at writing an outline failed. I’d end up writing whole pages of dialogue and descriptive scenes.

Wow. Big problem for a writer, huh?

I know. I promise I’m not whining.

That comes later.

Where was I? Too many ideas. I decided my problem meant I needed to just write the thing down already. I ignored the advice given by so many authors, and I abandoned outlines in favor of writing unencumbered. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? “Abandoning outlines in favor of writing unencumbered.” Poetic. That’s what writing can do – it can take a train wreck and make it sound like a venetian waltz by simply finding the right words.

A better way of saying it would be that I was flying by the seat of my pants.

“Pantsing it.” See? We writers even have a poetic phrase for that.

Pantsing it didn’t go well for me. The story took on a life of its own. In some ways, that’s a good thing. It means the story is rich and full; it can take unexpected turns and have tantalizing twists in the plot. With my story, things got out of hand. It turns out my story was more like a squid.

Live squid.

Lots of arms and too much ink.

Did I mention they bite?

My story got wrapped up in squid tentacles, covered in ink, and bitten a few times. Not good. Then the blasted thing started pulling me under. Instead of plugging along with several thousand words a day or every few days, I wrote nothing. The ideas were still crashing around in my head, but instead of a free-spirited dance, I realized I was at the mercy of a giant angry story squid.

Writers block?

No. Not me.

How could I have writer’s block with this many ideas? It’s unfortunately easy to imagine. Take a bunch of logs and throw them into a river. Then throw a bunch of branches in. Add some mud. Maybe a few beavers.

Logjam.

Angry beavers.

Those logs, branches, and mud are pieces of my story (we’ll leave out the beavers for now). I could keep sending everything down the river haphazardly and hope the logjam will break up on its own, but that would be stupid. The smart thing to do would be to tie a bunch of logs together to make a raft. The branches and mud would help seal the cracks. You get the idea. More logs would be made into more rafts, and I could send them all down the river one after the other.

That’s an outline.

I’ve been stuck with my logjam for far too long. It’s killing my story and keeping me from writing. So, I’m letting go of my pride. It was silly anyway. Kind of like letting a giant kraken steer a pirate ship full of angry beavers.

3 thoughts on “Humility. And Squid.

  1. Sqid. Pirate ships. Angry beavers. Well, you definitely don’t have problems with creatively expressing yourself! 🙂 I can’t wait until you have the book and the book doesn’t have you any longer! 😀 Good luck!

  2. Pingback: Murder your darlings. | Emlyn Boyd

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