Lost in the Woods

Where do I go from here?

Just when I was breaking my arm patting myself on my back for making such good progress on my rewrite, I got stuck. Really stuck. Panicky stuck. I have absolutely no idea what needs to happen next to make this book worth reading. Or writing. I thought at the outset that I’d have enough objectivity to propel me through the entire thing; that I’d be able to find and fix the flaws and holes and inconsistencies; that I’d be able to excise an entire protagonist and her side of the story and find a meaningful way to replace it. But suddenly, I’m too close to the story. I’m shacked up with these characters in a densely wooded hollow in West Virginia, and I literally cannot see the forest for the trees.

It doesn’t help that my muse has given me up for Lent, and maybe even forever.

So this morning, I called on three of my writer-reader friends and begged them to read what I’ve done so far. I promised bottomless glasses of wine if they would sit down with me afterward and brainstorm. Fortunately, they are good friends with good ideas, and they are patient with my panic. They remind me that I do this at predictable intervals and somehow, I always get through it. That’s true, but each time it happens, it feels like this is going to be the time that I don’t.

Is it worth it? Is it going to be any good? Should I stop writing and become a telemarketer or a garbage collector or a balloon animal maker?

Yes, yes, and no, my muse would tell me if we were speaking, although you do show some promise with the balloon animals. I should be able to convince myself of that, but it just sounds better when it comes from someone else.

So now, I wait: for my readers to finish reading, for the ideas to arrive, for Lent to end. And until then, I better make a trip to the liquor store. We’re going to need a lot of wine.