Writers are compelled to put words on paper. If we don’t, our characters won’t let us rest. Their voices become louder and louder, forcing their stories upon us until we relent and write them down. Our characters are our best friends. They can also be our worst enemies. Their homes are our homes, their dreams/sorrows/joys, our dreams/sorrows/joys.
When writers don’t write we become irritated, sad, and sometimes just plain bitchy. Nothing feels right again until we can sit down at our computer, or pen in hand if a traditionalist, and start writing. To put it plainly, when I don’t have time to write I feel lost! I’m not me and I can become pretty difficult to live with.
Since we moved from New York State back to Wisconsin almost five years ago I’ve had lots of time to write. It took me four years to find a permanent job. I did temp work here and there, but I needed something permanent to get me out of the house, to introduce me to new people, and to have a little extra money in the pocket. Then I found the perfect part-time job, 2-3 days a week most weeks. It gave me enough time away from my writing to keep me fresh, yet not so much as to stop me in my tracks. Now I’m working full-time filling in for a co-worker on maternity leave. I know it’s temporary, but it’s really putting a crimp in my writing time and I’m getting cranky. I have to work extra hard at finding the time to work on my novel revisions.
Right now I’m writing new chapters to insert where my timeline has holes. I underestimated how difficult this could be. I have two parallel timelines running: my heroine’s past love with her husband, and her present day with her second chance at love now that her husband has died. Yes, this is a challenging approach for a first novel, but it’s the way Mary Bishop tells me her story and I can’t do it any other way. She won’t let me. She’s a woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to stand up for herself. I admit, I’m a little intimidated by her strength, and also more than a little in awe of her. (Don’t look so shocked. I already told you our characters are very real to us.)
So, I struggled along writing insert chapter one, two, three, and then I got stuck; as stuck as if I’d stepped into the proverbial quicksand. The more I tried to move forward, the deeper I sank and I was getting desperate. So last weekend I went back to the beginning. It was the only way I could think to get out of the quicksand. I started reading from the beginning; reading, revising, reviewing, and taking notes. My second insert chapter brought a new character into the mix. I had to go back to the beginning to reference her as she was now going to play a key role in Mary’s story and couldn’t just suddenly show up in chapter 22. A dog was added, a dog that would save the life of an important person in Mary’s life. Again, couldn’t just have him appear unannounced in chapter 24.
So, now I’m back on my feet and running, a little wet and dirty for my struggle, but moving forward again, nonetheless, and hopefully avoiding all the other patches of quicksand I know are hiding out there. Unfortunately, right now I must take a break to tackle another obstacle to my writing time. There’s a pile of ironing that’s taking on a life of its own, and a button that isn’t going to sew itself back on my jacket. Mary will have to be patient for just a little bit longer.