Last night, the hard road to the happy ending.

Yikes, what a night. Had a couple of extra hours to sit with the book, and found myself on the ledge of a crumbling building. Everything I’d written, everything I’d been patiently building up over days of work, rung hollow and false. I couldn’t find the rhythm. I couldn’t my own voice. I had no idea of what I wanted to say or how I was going to get there. The (attempt at) writing felt as if my characters were all standing with their backs turned to me, refusing to speak…or even to acknowledge me. I had no idea how to formulate even a sentence in the language I love so much.

I got up. Walked around. Sat down. Got up, walked around again, sat down. One line appeared. Great? Not so much? Hard to tell, but it was worth a shot to try to move myself off the mark and in a different direction from the stalled one. Another line, painfully won. Another. Was it good? Who could tell.

I had a moment of the panicks. The “just throw this whole section out and start over” fidgets–the writerly equivalent of, while preparing a meal, taking a whole bunch of expensive, promising, high-end ingredients and tossing them down the garbage disposal.

I tried the “let it go” approach. I tried self-forgiveness. I tried puzzle-piecing sentences together, hoping something new and stronger would come from the exercise. I tried everything. Not being able to hear my own voice in my head was terrifying.

At last, not long before I went to bed, an emotional logic offered itself to me…an echo of a character trait that wanted to be known again. I started to hear–if not the music in the words–a distant hum.

Hello, bed. Hello tape recorder. There, at last, I started to hear my own voice. The characters nodded grudgingly in my direction. They began to find their own purpose again, their own impetus, their lives without me.

I think I know where I’m headed, now. Out of the woods, out of the weeds. Still shaky from the loss of my internal compass. But seeing lights in the distance.