What do Elizabeth Gilbert, my boss at work, and a fortune cookie all have in common? They’re all reasons why none of the words I wrote this week were for The Traitor, the book I’m supposed to be finishing.
And I couldn’t be happier.
I should probably explain.
It’s all about the ideas
Part of the Writer Reboot plan that I talked about last month was to include some fun in my writing life. For the past week or so, that fun has involved markers, glitter, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, which talks about inspiration and curiosity and living a creative life. One point that really stuck with me from the book was when she was talking about ideas and being receptive to them when you get them, rather than putting them off for a more convenient time.
I learned the hard way quite some time ago that, if I get an idea about a story or a character or even a bit of dialogue, I need to write it down. Right away. I always think I’ll remember it “later” or “in the morning” but I never do. So this week, when I had a light bulb moment about how to make things difficult for my contemporary hero Sam, while I was right in the middle of trying to make things difficult for my historical hero Michael, I switched gears and ran with it. As a result, Sam’s life has taken a completely different twist, making his conflict stronger, and I came up with what I think are some good solutions to the “mess in the middle” portion of the story that had been plaguing me. I’m considering that a win.
“. . . ideas spend eternity swirling around us . . . for heaven’s sake, try not to miss the next one.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Sometimes the path takes a turn
My boss at work, who is a big fan of romance novels, was a journalist at some point in her career. She knows I’m a writer and we often talk about writing and story – sometimes in relation to work and other times not. During one such conversation last week, I mentioned a random fact about my family and she said, “That’s really interesting. You should write an article about that.” I thought she was kidding, but she was serious. After some background discussion on freelance writing and some quick brainstorming, I left her office with the beginnings of an article, a title, and a plan for several theme-related pieces.
So, instead of refocusing on my historical hero Michael, I’m writing the article because: (1) it’s different and fun and (2) I’m pretty sure the next time we meet my boss is going to be expecting to see a finished draft and I’d hate to miss a deliverable like that.
“Writing Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Inspiration is everywhere
I thought I’d be safe eating dinner before finally buckling down and getting back to my planned writing for the week, but that wasn’t the case. I’ve been going through a Chinese takeout phase (broccoli-beef) lately and no meal is complete without a fortune cookie (or two). This is the fortune I got yesterday:
“You will step on the soil of many countries”
That’s all it took to make several other random thoughts I’d had recently suddenly click into place. So, instead of finally getting back to Michael and his story I wound up knee-deep in outlining the story for two secondary characters from my NaNo contemporary story. And of course outlining required the Googling of “many countries” and the watching of a PBS travel show.
So, did I get words on the page this week? Yes.
Is The Traitor any closer to being finished? No.
Am I okay with that? You bet.
This week’s writing has been interesting and different and fun. That’s totally worth having my writing plan in disarray. Michael’s story will still be there tomorrow and who knows; maybe the next bit of inspiration to strike will be just for him.
Too bad I’m out of fortune cookies.
How’s your writing life been going? Any interesting derailments or successes to share?