My Story Angels—The End of the Journey
In September, I blogged about my struggle to get my story, BERRY’S LICK, rolling. After several attempts to find a familiar structure, I gave up and decided to break the story into two parts separated by a period of 30 years. I had no idea whether the structure would work.
The characters led the way. It was a wild ride with lots of surprises along the journey. Now at the end, I can say it was one of the most interesting writing adventures I’ve been on. I can see why “flying into the mist” writers approach each writing day with a sense of excitement. I was as curious to know what was going to happen to my characters as I imagine the characters must have been.
If you’ve seen the movie STRANGER THAN FICTION, you can imagine what it felt like for the character Harold Crick not to know how his story was going to end. Writing blind feels the same way. After awhile, Harold quit worrying about his fate and started living his life in color instead of the black and white. The rewards for his bravery were tremendous. He learned to play the guitar. He found he loved cookies and a woman--things he never would have found if he had given into his desire to play it safe.
I must admit my story angels have been generous along my journey. I’ve found plenty of threads to tie the two parts together so they feel like one story. There are mirror scenes, continuing conflicts and character arcs, all conveniently placed. I’m actually looking forward to the editing process. I can already see themes and motifs, which, once heightened, will make the story even stronger.
My writing experience with BERRY”S LICK has convinced me that the first draft of a story needs to be told with an adventurous spirit. I had a painting teacher in college who encouraged his students not to be afraid of making mistakes. He’d often tell us, “If you’re going to make a mistake, make it a big one.” In other words, half-hearted attempts were just not acceptable. Be bold. And then he’d take your canvas, turn it upside down, and tell you to start again.
I know this hard when a writer finds a safe process that brings marginal success—even awards and publication. We writers tend to want to repeat the process that worked the first time and not adventure off into the unknown. In order to stay fresh, we need to grow. Growing means change. We must be brave.
If your story angels are like mine, you probably don’t have a choice. Commiserations and congratulations are in order! Go forth and be brave!