You Win Some, You Lose Some

It must be because I am, essentially, built for life in a fjord that I just can’t cope with hot weather. At the same time, I hate complaining about it, because it’s so rare in these parts. For the past couple of days we’ve been having a mini-heatwave (blue skies from horizon to horizon, barely a cloud, still and heavy air, baking in temperatures of 24 – 28 degrees Celsius, on average), and it completely threw my circuitry for a loop. Today it’s still dry, and warm, and heavy, but the sky is more like a huge greyish-white duvet and there’s a bit of a breeze.

So, I might actually be able to think today, and get stuff done.

I really do enjoy sitting in the shade with a book while my garden gently sizzles all around me, and it’s amazing to look up into an Irish sky and see it blue as cobalt. But at the same time it’s terrible to sit at your computer willing the blinking cursor to turn into words. I tried so hard to write a piece of flash fiction yesterday and no matter what I did, it just wouldn’t work. I tried prompts, of all kinds. I tried re-reading some of my old work to see if anything struck me, or if there was a half-finished idea anywhere which I could complete. I tried flipping a book to a random page and taking the first four words I saw as a sentence seed. I’d get about 200 words in, with no idea where the story was going, and then it would just fizzle out – pfft – like that.

So, basically, what I’m saying is: sorry for the lack of a blog post here yesterday. Be assured I fought a heroic battle. However, I lost – it’s bound to happen once in a while – and I was crushed flat by my own writer’s block.

Image: chicagonow.com

Image: chicagonow.com

I did manage to get some work done on ‘Web’, though, which was the day’s only saving grace. On that topic: you might remember me bleating on about wanting to change the narrative voice from third- to first-person a few days ago; well. As happens sometimes when you revisit something with a brain unaffected by heatstroke, you realise you were talking utter rubbish. I’ve decided to stick with the third-person for the time being; when I re-read what I’d done, it didn’t seem as bad as I’d remembered. I did try rewriting the first chapter in first-person, and somehow it made my protagonist seem much older and far more cynical than I want her to be. Maybe I was channelling myself (because I sure as heck felt old and cynical while I was writing it), but for whatever reason, it didn’t work as well as I’d imagined.

I think the book still needs a touch of first-person somewhere, though. I’m considering writing some sections in my antagonist’s voice, in first-person, and seeing if interspersing those with the rest of the narration would help.

Or maybe I should just finish the first draft and then see what the story needs.

Image: giphy.com

Image: giphy.com

All right, all right. Jeesh!

Anyway, I made a sketch (keeping things deliberately rough) of the rest of the book the other day – my desk is covered with Post-It notes, which seems to be my default way of working – and so I know I can finish this story. I know where I want it to go, in broad terms. I have Themes to cover and Important Things to say about sacrifice and friendship and love. I have (I think) the bones of an interesting tale with a striking protagonist and I’m writing in a genre that I’m not used to, which means it’s always interesting (if a little bit like walking a tightrope).

But one thing never changes: the work. It’s not easy getting a writhing story from your brain (where it seems like awesome squared) to paper, where it can sometimes feel flat and boring. I’ve got to give it my best shot, and there’s only one way to do that.

Quit complainin’, get my butt in the hot-seat (or, today, the pleasantly warm if a little overcast-seat), and write!

Catch y’all later. Good luck with whatever you’re working on, and may all your words be good ones.

 

4 thoughts on “You Win Some, You Lose Some

  1. Kate Wally

    Wondered where you got to – I thought you might have been away from writing. Given the amazing stories you come up with using prompts, I do feel slightly reassured that sometimes you struggle to find the inspiration you need. What ever you do – keep writing xx

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks for missing me! 🙂 I’m glad my befrazzlement was an inspiration, though I hope it doesn’t happen again for a while. And thank you for the encouragement. Right back at ya, m’dear. xxx

      Reply
  2. Maurice A. Barry

    Not quite as warm here. The air is still with temps around 10 today, although we did see 20 yesterday. I, too, love to sit under the silver maple tree in my garden with a book…which is exactly what I did for most of the afternoon yesterday. Today, there’s 6 baskets of laundry in the hallway. They’re calling, “fold me…”
    Whenever I need to get my brain in gear I talk a walk and listen to a decent podcast. If you’d like to try it, here’s what you need to do:
    1–download the app “Beyond Pod” to your android phone, or just pull out your ipod if that’s what you use.
    2–spend an hour or so searching for podcasts that you find interesting. Here are some of the ones I like (most are based on radio shows and, so, tend to be well-produced):
    – Ideas from the CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Company)
    – writers and company, also from the CBC
    – under the influence (CBC)
    – all in the mind (RN, Australia)
    – On Being (APM, US)
    3–update the feeds and download the episodes you’d like to hear.
    4–put in the headphones, put on your walking shoes and off you go.
    Sometimes you don’t even have to listen intently, especially if the episode is one that you’re only slightly interested in. The podcast then serves as a decent, thoughtful background that brings in new ideas while you daydream your way though a nice refreshing walk.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you! I love your step by step instructions, because boy do I need those. 😀 The only thing wrong with this scenario is that my ever-so-clever android phone didn’t come with headphones and I have never managed to get around to buying any. The fact that I can listen to podcasts through it (which was news to me until I read your comment) will be an even greater incentive to get some. 🙂 Thank you. *hug*

      Reply

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