Thursday, April 28, 2011


This week has been a trial in motivation. I'm in the first stages of a new project, the sequel to the urban fantasy novel I finished early this year. I've created a mini-outline with new characters who interest me, and a fun adventure story that will take my world in new directions. Now it's simply a matter of sitting down and letting the words flow. Right?

I wish.

This past week I started writing the first draft, with enough character and plot exploration to shine a dim light at least a few pages ahead of me. In past projects, the first week has been a word explosion: fresh territory to explore, a blush of optimism enough to carry me through to the tangles of the early-middle muddle. No worries; once I wrote through the first few pages, the light would shine brighter, showing me new pathways I hadn't seen before I arrived.

But not this project. This time, I found myself floundering through the first scene, unsure in my narration, struggling with sentence structure, unable to break free of my inner editor's strangling grip. What gives?

Allow me to engage in some melodrama. In the film The Neverending Story, Atreyu and his horse must face the Swamps of Sadness, through which he must trudge to reach his destination. If he stops for even a moment and reflects on the sorrow of the place, he will sink into it. He must trudge through, immune to the weight of negativity in his surroundings. While Atreyu makes it, his horse is not so disciplined.

I'm not saying that the writing life is a bog of sorrow, though sometimes it can feel like it. I currently have two projects in limbo: the first book in this series, and a novella I'm waiting to hear back on. I believe I'm struggling in my current work because I've allowed myself to be weighted down by dark uncertainty. I glanced below and behind me, succumbing to the sorrow of the unknown, the fear of rejection. And failing to see the path ahead of me, I began to sink.

But I'm over that now. Seeing the cause of my weak-kneed dawdling, I must now power through it. I will not be consumed by the unforgiving bog of writer's depression. I will fight through with words, sentences, and scenes, until I break through to the far shores of completion and victory.

Fellow writers in the grips of flagging fluency: don't give up. Find the strength to power through your own Swamp of Sadness. I'll meet you on the far shore, and we can stare back and spite the darkness behind us.

Pardon me now, I have a novel to write.

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