Sunday, July 1, 2007

Jump the Chasm.

It happens to all of us.
There comes a time when our current writing project becomes overwhelmingly tedious and boring, our plot seems stale, unimaginative, and we suddenly feel that we've hit a roadblock that we just can't get past. Of course, we know we should revamp the plot, cut some stuff, add some stuff, but we dread going back to it. It's too much work! And suddenly the laundry, the beautiful park outside, the dog we normally hate walking, that old crocheting hobby we used to have 12 years ago...these things call to us, and we leave the computer -- sometimes for days or weeks. What? No silly -- of course we check our email and our blogs! It's just the work in progress that we make sure not to open!
For those not well-versed in psychological verbage this is called avoidance. And I at times have quite a knack for it! It's so easy to cruise along typing brilliant prose when the plot flows nicely, the characters all follow their Myers-Briggs types, and I can visualize the future cover of my book reflecting in the windows of every Barnes and Nobles I walk past. (Oh, how beautiful it is...) But when the going gets tough -- yikes -- it's easy to want to throw the whole thing into the circular file and focus back on "regular life."
That's when I remember Tolkien's characters, Frodo and Sam.
Yes, these short, soft-spoken hobbits can be a great example for us.

In book 3 of the Lord of the Rings these two unlikely heroes arrive at a deep, dark chasm that seems impassible. They have a choice to make. Behind them is home, the easy path, the sorrow-filled relief of giving-up. And on the opposite side of the chasm is the dark unknown, a success they can't yet see, and the final, life-saving end to their quest. Of course, the world will likely come to a horrible, bloody end if they turn back, but oh see they've really begun to wonder why they ever started this trip in the first place.
So, like many of us, Sam and Frodo sit down on a rock, putting off the inevitable, questioning their abilities, and acting really quite pathetic.

But eventually they remember that quitting will be no easier than going on. So, despite Sam's fear of heights, and with a rain storm coming up behind them, they take the plunge. And so must we. Nothing will change until we step over the ledge.

So if you, like me, have hit a chasm recently, remember this -- the fate of our novels - perhaps even a whole civilization of future readers -- is in our hands. Let's not turn back! Jump the chasm. Yes, yes, by all means, watch out for the giant murderous spider on the other side! But nevertheless, jump the chasm. These writing roadbump are no match for us!

Here, I'll give you a push.