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My great Skydiaries friend Alexander Zoltai has been observing that this space has been rather grim lately. So it has.

Today will be different. I will it to be so.

I have looked at the recent chapters. Looked at it again. And again and again. Like the hopeful half of a hopeless relationship, I have optimistically, determinedly waited for the hog of discontent to clear. I have chipped away at words and phrases and whole paragraphs that disappointed me. I have wound up nights at the page dreading the read, dreading the lack of oooohhhh that has been epidemic there. I have watched popular films, breaking them down in my head to their remarkably ordinary component parts, trying to understand why the clock ticked,

And last night I figured it out.

It is not the construction of the chapters. Or the substance. It is the chapters themselves.

We are 100 pages into the story. We know the characters…the main one is a gem. We know the arcane world in which they live. We know the improbable, extraordinary entity that drives the work. And at 100 pages it all falls flat.

We are at a revelatory moment. Our POV character discovers the secret that has been hovering over the book since the first pages. The moment must be huge.

It wasn’t.

I kept trying to squeeze the emotion into a plot-point not large enough to fit it, like a shopper trying to fit a too-big foot into a too-small shoe. No way in hell that one is walking in a fit like that.

The understanding came through the side door. Through an invention that—should I decide to adopt it—will turn the book into something very different from what it is. A something that may push the unlikely to the unreadable. But that dare offered a gift. The realization of the non-fit.

Which means that I am left on a broad bank, looking longingly at the wide river, with no conveyance to get me across. And that’s okay. Better to swim for the far  shore under my own power. Better to flail for a while than to sink under the Weight of Wrong.

What that means to the writer is that the momentum is vanished, a frightening reality. That the labor of days was for naught. That one must throw one’s self to the mercy of the Universe once again.

I am resigned, not cheerful. But it trumps miserable and befuddled any day. Noplace is not the wrong place. In that knowing is Freedom. In that dubious knowing, I have turned this morning into the Morning of Me.

 

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Okay. Okay. I have no idea what a gnat’s attention span actually is. But I’m sure that the buzzy little suckers have nothing on me.

Life has been full of distractions, lately. Wet walls to dry out. Resumes to email. Calls to answer. Boxes to pack. Emotions to wrestle. An August-in-July heatwave. And the writing is feeling the effects.

To sit with the chapter in the waiting laptop—that’s an “A” for effort. If I were being paid by the minute, I’d be rich by now. Finding the productivity…well, that’s something else.

A minute at the page, a minute of distraction: forces that pull with equal gravity. A sentence, a paragraph, then the need to go check on the progress of a drying wall. Or email to consider. Or a cat to distract from claws-in-furniture. Oh, did I mention that I forgot to eat?

I don’t pretend that this a-little-here-a-little-there process is anything like polishing a diamond. More often, it seems more like treading water one stroke at a time to keep from drowning. Or like ADD in an anthill. My overcrowded brain will barely let me carry a idea an arm’s length from the page to think it over at leisure. The page is the house of thought that is distractingly busy, with no room to go off alone in the quiet.

I want the silent, welcoming room to come back. The one in which the ideas whisper. The one in which nothing else speaks to me but the who and the what of the story. I want nights that aren’t treadmill nights, that don’t leave me exhausted when I wake. I want the simple. I want the confident calm of one thing at a time.

And that’s the problem. When you have the attention span of a gnat, one sentence at a time is all you can manage. Could someone please hit me over the head with something heavy—just long enough to help me reboot?

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