After flying high the first two weekends of November in my novel…I hit the wall.
Roland/xrecent said it well from yesterday’s write-in said it well: the wall is big and scary because you don’t know what is happening at the other side. In Chris Baty’s words last 2004:
You’ll know you’ve hit the Wall when you start thinking that the whole endeavor is futile. When you start worrying that you don’t have the time or imagination to pull it off, and you come to see your story as an unmitigated disaster that should be put out of its misery before the thing gets old enough to remember where you live.
And I’ve been hitting it a lot the past week — talk about being caught in a total Week 2 slump.
It started with my MC’s crying mode last week. I managed to write a better chapter but it was still terribly boring, and hard to write. I thought that would be okay, but then when I started on the next chapter, I was stumped. What happens now?
It was annoying. And then my internal editor decided to show up, and it keeps on telling me how flat my writing is and how emo everyone has become and how I approached it wrongly and how I should just start from the very first part and write again and not think of finishing the entire story this month. I tried to look for some dares and prompts (like including Plum trees in the novel even if there are no plum trees there) but none worked. Yesterday it told me my build up was too slow, and I should have just plunged in and that I really did not know my characters at all…and it really drove me crazy. I wondered if the story was even worth telling at all.
So last night, after being so frustrated with what I’ve been doing, I took another break. I took a shower and thought of how to approach things in the story. I always get my best ideas in the shower and I really hoped to get it then. Slowly, as I rinsed off the shampoo, I found some glimmer of new ideas inside my head, another way to approach the story.
And today I wrote.
I’ve managed to hit 38k already, and I’m still writing along steadily. I do hope I can get through this particular rough patch, and get to the exciting parts (which I honestly still have no idea how to write). I think I’ll be doing some outlining in my spare time soon.
Anyway, before I go to bed today so I can start early tomorrow for some early morning writing, here’s one of the versions of Chapter 7, which I don’t know if I will be able to include at all. It was slightly fun to write though, even if I think it absolutely sucks. :P
They say alcohol helps you sleep. Some of my teammates often tell me that after a drinking session, they all crash into their beds and go through a long uninterrupted slumber, since the alcohol already softened them up. I argued that after that uninterrupted slumber, they would wake up with really bad hangovers which totally defeats the purpose of resting, but then maybe itâ€™s just me, since I have been known to have really bad hangovers. Which is why I almost never drink.
Almost never. Unless absolutely necessary. And knowing that the guy you have liked for almost a year is gay and has a boyfriend and that guy introduces the boyfriend to you right after he kissed you makes a bit of alcohol a necessity.
But the alcohol I consumed on Friday night did not make me sleep. In fact, even if I was very, very tired from going home from the party at midnight, I just couldnâ€™t sleep. I tossed and turned for hours in my bed, counted sheep, read, and even listen to the few Norah Jones music I have that always puts me to sleep, but to no avail. Sleep eluded me, just as when I needed and wanted it the most. I almost considered drinking a sleep-inducing cold medicine just to make me sleep, but I saw that it was already halfway past four in the morning, and it would be useless if I try to sleep.
I couldn’t sleep, and I didn’t want to think. What’s a girl to do?
Back in college, we had one day in the year where we get to enroll in alternative classes. These classes taught everything that can possibly be taught â€” photography, fiction writing, poetry writing, fencing, tai chi, aikido, videography, Flash. There were even classes that talk about love, about family, about career, and even classes that teach fortune telling and wicca. The slots for these classes are limited, so as soon as enrollment opens, people usually scramble for classes. During my sophomore year in college, I asked my blockmate to enroll me in the fencing class because I was sick and couldn’t enroll myself, but somehow she managed to enroll me in a juggling class.
Juggling. Yes, as in balls and all that.
I was annoyed at first, but I couldn’t change enrollments and my professors for that day when the alternative class is happening all decided to require us to submit our certificates of completion. I had no choice but to attend the three-hour class on a clown sport.
Surprisingly, though, I enjoyed the class. I found juggling very relaxing, and it helped me to combat stress and think better during crunch time at school. There’s something very rhythmic and constant about how each item flies into the air and falls back followed immediately by another item and the way it goes around and around that helps me think. Conversely, if I don’t want to think, I just have to add more items to juggle and I focus on nothing else but the catching and the throwing and the flying in front of me.
However, I’ve only done the juggling whenever I am in the privacy of my own home, so practically no one else knows this except for my sister and my best friend. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a talent that I would proudly tell everyone I can do, which is why I stay mum about it.
That morning, I desperately needed my mind to stop running around. So I got up from the bed, grabbed four fist-sized bean bag stars from the pile that sits at the corner of my table (a Christmas gift from Lia) and started tossing them around. I usually juggle a maximum of three items when I needed to think, and and it’s been a while since I juggled four items, so that certainly kept my mind off anything else for the next hour.
When my arms felt like they were about to fall off from the catching and throwing, I stopped juggling and dropped the stars on my bed, slowing the movement of my arms down so it won’t cramp from the sudden stop. I laid down on my bed, and closed my eyes, where a vision of the stars I juggled earlier still moved in a hazy pattern. I felt very comfortable back on my bed and I wondered briefly if sleep would finally come…