Today, Not Someday
I am writing a book. Wow, that’s kind of daunting to see in black and white. Me, writing a book. Really?
Really. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing but I’ve never been brave enough to take the steps to make it happen. After saying “someday” for the last twenty years, I’m finally going to give this particular dream a real chance.
This specific book idea has been bouncing around in my head for years. It will be written in the style of a memoir, including some anecdotes from my life, but more fiction. And that’s as far as I ever took the idea until this summer. I decided to sign up for two online writing courses – Memoir Writing and Humor Writing. These seemed like the perfect classes to give me the tools I would need to set my book into motion.
As part of the class, I wrote and shared the introduction to my book. The feedback was overwhelmingly supportive but even more importantly, there was some very helpful criticism. Questions were asked that I hadn’t considered at all. And the following week, our lesson was on plot. Plot? Oh man, my book was only anecdotes and characters, I had no plot! I had no beginning, middle, and end! I had no Major Dramatic Question and no Conflict!! I certainly had no Resolution!!!!! (And by this point, I also had no exclamation marks as I had used them all.)
I began to think about the plot for my story. Where could I go with these anecdotes? What conflict could I create for the character to resolve? What was going to hold all of these pieces together? The more I thought about it, the more uncertain I became. Maybe this idea I had been holding onto was a complete failure. Was it possible that I had clung to this book concept for all of these years and now that I had finally given myself permission to pursue it, it wasn’t even worth pursuing?
Unsure what else to do, I tried a technique I had recently read about in Kick-Ass Creativity by Mary Beth Maziarz (I’ll be reviewing this book here very soon) – rather than try to find a solution, I began writing about the problem. I explored every bit of the block I was feeling. I wrote about the lack of plot, I beat myself up for failing before I had even started, I berated myself for holding onto a dream for so long when it had no potential value. I moved on to my self-worth, my lack of direction, my failure at other things. Gradually, my writing and ranting turned back to the story. Somehow putting down words about this crisis of faith sparked an idea for the structure of my book. I wrote for several more paragraphs, just throwing down ideas as they rushed through me.
Suddenly, I had a plot. Now, what to do with it? Next week, I will share my plan.