Dirty Laundry

Back Burners and Empty Hockey Arenas

Sometimes you just have to back burner an idea. That’s what happened to me recently with a novel I’d been working on for the last six months or so. I was extremely excited about it when I started but when I attempted to flesh out the actual story, the thing sort of fell flat. I was surprised when my editor said she wasn’t completely sold on the new proposal but when I tried to outline the novel - as she had asked - I realized that she was dead right. There were problems with the idea that I didn’t even know existed.

But I was stubborn and wanted to make it work. So I outlined. And I outlined. And I outlined. Pages and pages of outlining. Of forcing square pegs into round holes only to finally recognize that this was not an idea I should be working on. You shouldn’t have to push something so hard. I know this on a gut level but my mind did not want to give up on this “great idea.”

Until I had no choice.

This is the battle you have when you are trying to create something out of nothing. You face the blank page every day and you have to have faith that something good will come as you work. But something good doesn’t always come.

The real challenge then becomes picking yourself up and starting all over again.

Which I did. Thank God.

I had another idea I’d scribbled down and as I starting fleshing this one out it came so much easier. Like it’s supposed to. The situations, the characters flowed out and onto the page with so much more joy and ease that I knew I was onto something.

Now, I don’t know what my editor will think of this one. I only just sent it off. But I do feel like this is a story ripe with comedic possibilities and I’m excited to dive deeper into it. We shall see.

So, what’s the lesson here?

Writing is hard work. But it shouldn’t be THAT hard. Meaning, you shouldn’t be pulling your hair out to make something work. In fact, if you find yourself trying to “make it work” instead of allowing the story to unfold then you probably need to reconsider what it is you’re working on.

Now, it’s back to mourning the rapidly disappearing NHL season….