Friday, June 12, 2015

Point of Entry

     I wrote this about a month ago:

     I haven't written anything for my novel in months. I'm stuck on a chapter and just can't see my way through it. My characters keep me awake at night with snippets of dialogue and bits of exposition that flit through my head as formless shapes and shadows. Ivy has approached John's door nineteen different ways. Said nothing. Sympathized with him. Befriended him. Cussed him out. Admired his surgeon's hands. Seduced him. Performed surgery with him. Sat down and watched him. Done nothing. None of it feels right. My inner John and Ivy are still brainstorming the scene and haven't worked it out for themselves yet. I hate it when I know exactly what will happen in a chapter, but my characters won't show me the point of entry. Ivy and John are slowly reaching out to each other, and now it's time for Ivy to make a grand gesture. I'm not sure how she's going to go about it, and neither is she. We've been going back and forth about this scene for as long as my mind conceived of it--so months now. At the risk of sounding schizophrenic, the voices in my head aren't making a whole lot of sense at the moment. And I'm at their mercy.
     It's really frustrating, when it comes down to it,because I already know that whatever I end up writing, that's taken me months to work out in my head, will most likely be no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs on the page. It's times like this I'm glad this is all fiction and months can't elapse between sentences of dialogue, because in real life, John would have already tired of Ivy's reticence, run off into the sunset with someone else, possibly already gotten a quickie divorce in Vegas, and Ivy would still be sitting at home alone grinding peppermint leaves and talking to her dog.
     They say write what you know. But in Ivy's case, maybe I'm writing what I don't know. In real life, I often feel like my brain isn't connected to my mouth. I think plenty of things, but never know what to say when I need to say it. It's why I write. Why I've always written. It's always been that way. Through my characters, I can indulge in all the what ifs. 
     What if instead of brooding alone, I had reached out. Had made the grand gesture. Had opened myself up a little. What would have happened then? Would everything be different? Or, I wonder fatalistically, would it really have mattered at all? Am I really so important that I alone control my destiny? In life, as in physics, does one action result in an equal and opposite reaction? Or do things, as I've always suspected, happen because of some mysterious cosmic destiny?
     While I lay in the dark stewing, and sit in the daylight stewing, and wonder how to write this next chapter, my mind continually races ahead, then races back, trying to piece together Ivy and John's story, while I wonder to myself whose story I'm telling anyway? Ivy's or mine?
      My character Ivy is in a dark place, a place I've inhabited, and as I write her story, I find myself turning (involuntarily) inward and dredging up long buried memories. It's why I hate writing sometimes. Why I view it as a compulsion and not a gift. I hate the constant naval gazing, introspection, and emotion that I'm forced to feel. When I'm not writing, I stay pretty emotionally even-keeled. That's probably why I can't seem to write anything when I'm happy, when I can't access or tap into any angst. That includes my blog. I've been working on this one post for over four months now. I'll get to a certain point (right about the point I'm at now, actually) when I think to myself, "And what exactly is the point to this blog anyway?" And then I quit writing it. Then I come back to it. Delete half of it. Write a little more. Question the point again. Rinse and repeat.
     This is what happens without a point of entry...

     I wrote this today:

     I've found with most things writing-related that if I just sit back and wait, my life will happen of its own accord. And as things coalesce, and things start to gel for me, the point of entry will invariably make itself known.
     That was what happened to me yesterday. I was going about my business, simultaneously stewing on my novel and an unrelated issue, when my brain made that record scratch sound, and said, "Hey hold up! You know that stuff you're trying to process right now? That sounds a lot like a metaphor for what happens in that scene you're struggling with! And doesn't all the drama going on remind you of John and Ivy's relationship? You CAN write this scene! You're currently living it!" And with that the clouds parted, and the point of entry revealed itself.
     Finally, I feel like I can proceed. Expect updates soon.

      
   

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