Monday, January 27, 2014

Growing Pains and the Endless Middle

I've known for a while that I work better when I have an idea where a story is going. Sometimes that means writing a detailed outline. Sometimes it's as simple as a sentence or two. But the words come more easily when I can see where I'm headed.

Then comes a day when I suddenly realize that the thing I thought I was aiming for will not work. Maybe it's because the ending no longer fits the characters. Or maybe it's simply that the route I thought I would take from point D to point E doesn't make any sense. Not even when I squint a little or look at it upside down.

This is the painful middle of every project, when I struggle and flail and ask myself the enduring question: Am I just writing shit?

Trying to write a story or a novel or even a piece of flash can be discouraging. Because it's damned hard. Communication between humans is always hard, but especially when we don't have those normal cues like voice and expression and body language. The only thing we have is a million some-odd words and these emotions and ideas swirling around in our brains and we're trying to get that out onto the paper in a way that not only makes sense but also makes someone else feel those same emotions and understand those same ideas. Just thinking about it makes me want to give up.

But I have come to understand these growing pains are a part of the communication process. It's the same as a toddler realizing that crying and pointing is no longer good enough. It's the point where you know that there are words and each of those words means something but it will take work and effort to hear anything other than noise.

So, I sit and stare at this seemingly endless middle, flailing about with trying to figure out if I need to make this story longer. Or cut it back. Add more sub-plots. More characters. Burn it and sprinkle the ashes on my vegetable garden. (At least then it would be productive, right?) And I have to remind myself that these growing pains are a part of the process of communicating. And the middle, which seems so stupid and never-ending, is a chance to do something more than just point and cry.

One word at a time, I am learning to communicate better and better.

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