The quarterly To The Point writing binge hasn’t happened for about six months. This weekend – Saturday, Sunday, Monday – we got back into it. “We” is Angie Gallop, Gordon Graham, Pauline Clark, Kevin Allen and me. We’re all working on fiction projects, and all looking to make progress with this dedicated chunk of writing time.
I’ve managed to reach my goal of 10,000 words. It’s been a beating-my-head-against-the-wall process for most of the binge. The first day I barely managed 2,500 words. Yesterday and today have gone better. One reason is that I haven’t lived with this story for as long as I lived with the first part of what has now become a trilogy in the world of the Swan Harp. That means I haven’t spent as much time thinking about the story, and so more of what I write is discovery, learning what my characters are going to do, and what will happen next. Even at 20,000 words I’ve had some surprises, which is cool. I like it when my stories surprise me.
I see things coming in that I didn’t plan. I’m not really big on planning a story arc anyway. I mean, if I think of one, fine, but I shy away from formulas or methods that tell you where to put a plot twist or a cliffhanger. It may work for some people. It just doesn’t work for me. It makes me feel like my story is contrived. I’m just sayin’. I have a pretty basic one-paragraph outline of this book and the next one, but there’s going to be a lot of stuff that I won’t know until I write it.
Another reason for the frustration is precisely having a weekend, a whole three days, with other writers, to do this. It’s re-emphasized for me one huge advantage to writing in the car. There are fewer distractions. There is also a restricted amount of time, which might look like a disadvantage, but really isn’t. I don’t have time to get frustrated with what I’m writing in the car. If there’s something that’s a slog, it’s a one-hour slog, maximum, and then I can put it away until tomorrow when, who knows?, the slogginess may have disappeared. I’ve never reached the beating-my-head-against-the-wall stage in the car.
There are also definite advantages. I’ve done two weeks’ worth of car-writing time in three days. I’ve found another piece of my plot. A few things have snapped into place which should keep me occupied for most of the next week of writing. I’ve had feedback from writers who have become familiar with my characters and my world. I’ve had some great food, most of which I haven’t had to prepare. I am refreshed, re-inspired, grateful all over again to have this gift of storytelling.
Tonight we will have our final communal dinner of the weekend (stir-fry, lemon pudding) and our final read-around of bits of the day’s work. And it’s back to the regular routine, one hour a day, five days a week, on wheels. It’s a good routine, especially after it’s been spiced up a bit with a binge.