The stuff that did work

It was tough to get back to work after having to throw out an entire chapter because it didn’t work. My confidence had been shaken a bit and of course there was no guarantee that the scene I was about to write was going to work either, or even be any good. Did I really know my characters? Did I really know where I was going with this story?

As I said before though, there’s really no cure for this but to dive back into the work. So I sat down and began to write. The first couple of hundred words were difficult. Every sentence was a strain. It was like dragging a heavy log over rough terrain. It was working, but it was hard work. I would stop every few sentences and then force myself to keep going.

Then something happened. Something about a character’s past that I had planned to reveal much later and in a different way suddenly started to come out in the scene. I had not planned it, but because of the situation and the characters involved it just came out. When that happened, everything became easy. It was so obviously right and good that sentence upon sentence just poured out. I entered into that state in which words just flow onto the paper like water gushing through an open dam.

I typed on furiously, caught up in the moment, immersed in the scene as it unfolded. The excitement and the joy of creation built as the scene progressed. I finished with a flurry of keystrokes, as sure of the last words as I was of the first, and rose from my chair in triumph. Did I know the characters? Did I know the story? Yes, I knew these things well. And because of that they could still surprise and delight me. These are the kind of moments that help make it all worth while.