253. Losing Your Way (And Finding It Again)

I think it was Robert Frost who said, “No matter how far down the wrong road you find yourself… Turn back.”

Truer and more sensible things have been said, I’m sure of it, but I cannot think of any of them right now. If there ever has been solid advice, Mr. Frost gives a good one. Mr. Churchill’s sparking wisdom follows right behind: “If you’re going through hell… Keep going.”

Anyone who has been writing for a respectable amount of time will tell you that Act 2, or the middle, is a bitch to write. Have you ever tried writing onto a female dog’s fur? I imagine that’s where the expression came from. For some, starting is the hardest part. For writing, the hardest part comes when you find yourself lost in the labyrinth that is Act 2.

Most people give up here. I know I have, more than a couple of times.

(take the number of projects you’ve started, subtract the number of projects taken away from you, then divide this number with the number of projects you’ve completed. If your end number is more than 10, you’ve passed the Leonardo Da Vinci threshold)

A Song For The Rain stopped dead in its tracks at 36,000 words, and for the life of me, I could write no more. The scenes wouldn’t work, and my heroine refused to do anything interesting. Even the troublemaking characters are nowhere in sight. They were probably drinking tea, or something.

I thought and brooded over it (I’m very good at brooding. Why, one time, I brooded for 6 hours straight!), and I decided that the problem laid at the very beginning, at the center of my protagonist’s motivation to go on her journey.

So what is there to do? Taking Mr. Frost’s advice (sorry, Mr. Churchill – you’ll be my hero for another day), I backtracked to where it all went wrong, and I started again. Which is to say, I started writing A Song For The Rain all the way from the beginning.

But that’s life, isn’t it? You go along, making decisions the best you can, and one day, when you’re 30 or 40 or 50, you stop dead in your tracks and wonder why isn’t anything progressing, or why isn’t anything working out for you. You start wondering where it all went wrong.

This is the part where some people start splurging on muscle cars and/or expensive food in an attempt to distract themselves from the emptiness within.

Luckily for me, you can always start over in fiction. In real life, you’re rarely so fortunate.

(making magic ain’t easy, but someone’s gotta do it)

Yesterday, close to midnight, I finished writing the first 2,000 words of the new A Song For The Rain, and so far it’s looking good – I’ve already killed a character within the first chapter. All that’s left to do is to keep on writing, and see whether my heroine’s motivations are strong enough to pull us all through Act 2.

This time round, I hope that the 36,000 words of losing my way will be enough to help me find my way again.

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