Several years ago, author Susan Taylor Brown gave me a magnet which said: “Write where it hurts. Find the courage to create.”
I have it on my refrigerator. It did indeed help me find the strength to write “Saved by the Music” – largely autobiographical.
In the wake of my aunt and my mom passing away, I am still writing where it hurts. But my question is: Where doesn’t it hurt?
Grief is like an ocean with no land in sight.
Writing isn’t hard now.
But writing cohesively is.
I sat yesterday writing notes about the rest of my latest novel. Scribbles are my version of an outline. (If I were in school I would get a failing outline grade. Also a failing penmanship grade – sigh.)
These are only tentative plans, and yet I couldn’t get a grip on them. The littlest plot choices had me stumped. Then I got mad at myself for my hesitance¸ and poof! I got on board the “I suck” express train. Last stop: Despair.
Then I did something different. Instead of wallowing, I went to the gym. Thank goodness for my son, who goes religiously. He makes me want to go, too.
On that bouncing elliptical I was able to make some plot decisions. They might change – and probably will – but I couldn’t move forward without them. I need order in my writing life, all the more now because I don’t have much in my day to day life.
So that’s me, writing through the pain.
The secret to writing is that there is no secret. No formula.
Ultimately, however you get something to the page is the right path.
The tricky part is that paths change. Sometimes there’s a downed tree in the way, or maybe even an avalanche occurred. We writers have to be ready to find an alternate route – and we have to make sure we don’t get hit or buried.
Like Winston Churchill advised, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”