I am always writing. Sometimes that means sitting at my computer, as I am now. Sometimes it means doing almost anything else while my brain works on something to do with my book.
Lately, that means trying to work out a story hole in “The Healing Heart”. I’ve been revising my first 20 chapters in order to get myself back on the path, and in doing so I found one inconsistency and a couple holes. Most have been quick and easy to fix, but one has kept me stymied. I need to add a scene, a not necessarily long but crucial scene. The problem’s been how to do it without sounding like I’ve just stuck it in there…a sort of info dump that takes away from the flow. I knew which chapter it had to be in, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.
So, I thought about it. And thought about it and thought about it. I thought about it while typing in the revisions for previous chapters. I thought about it while lying awake in the dark at night. I thought about it while cross-stitching and while making jam. I thought about it while staring blankly out the window at the rain. You get it…I thought about it a lot.
Then it hit me while reading a magazine. Why then? I don’t know. All I know is the answer was so obvious I also don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.
That’s the way it is with all writers. We don’t write so much because we want to, but because we HAVE to. It’s a compulsion. And sometimes it’s pure torture. When you read a book you can’t help but think how easy it would be to write one. All you need is a story idea and everyone has at least one of those. Ask any writer who’s had to make small talk at a cocktail party, or been forced to speak to the stranger sitting next to them on a plane. Everyone has a book they’d write, too, if they had the free time.
Writers don’t write a book because they have a free weekend. (After all, you can READ a book in a weekend so writing one over two days is nothing, right?) Writers write because they can’t not write. For many that means getting up before the kids are awake or it’s time to go to the day job. If they go for very long away from their computer, or notebook for those who prefer drafting in long-hand, they start pacing the floor and muttering things that could frighten the children. Now, it could just mean they’re working out their killer’s motive and signature, but it could also mean they need to get back to their writing before all the plot twists in their head drive them to drink.
Finding the right words to put on paper might be agonizing, but once I do the feeling is like a drug and I have to do it again. That’s what it means to be a writer.