Monday, March 23, 2015

Birds and Breakthroughs

I've been working on a super secret project. I've kept it (mostly) to myself because it is out there. Way far out in left field out there, and it might suck. I'll admit it. Right now it is a tangled web of really beautiful individual silken strands. It also might contain some bug carcasses and other yuckies. This is what first drafts are for, I've heard.

My writing partner and I met today to talk about some pieces we've been working on and also to discuss Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I'm not going to get into the play by play of the book...I will only say that it was awesome, inspiring and depressing, and so authentic that I couldn't put it down. My WP said that it "spoke to her" and I felt the same. In fact, the book--or Ms. Lamott-- whispered in my ear while I was driving my daughter to karate. I'd been struggling with my tangled mess to the point that the bug carcass I referred to earlier might have been me. I was totally stuck. My character was this blank, unidimensional victim, and even if all the tragedy and her journey were heart-wrenching and pretty, I was pretty sure no one would give a shit. There I said it. This is what happens when you have little ones and hold in all your swear words all day. You write naughty novels and swear in your blog. Back to my car revelation. I just knew. The answer came flying out of some dark space inside of me where it had been secretly fermenting into something fizzy and delicious like kombucha. And I had it.

I had my solution. I could see that with one big twist of a single strand everything fell into place. But I was afraid. I'll admit it. The twist was big. It was painful and even a little bit controversial. But it had to be done. When I got home, the words flew onto the page. They came in that cathartic purging way. Still I wasn't sure. Then I got an email from my WP. She sent me a short piece she'd just written about a character who goes through the same experience I had just written. Now, I am a deep believer in signs. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (also awesome, read it). I think the universe lets us know that we are on the right path. So to me, this wasn't a coincidence.

 Picture by Jonnie Andersen (unaltered)

I like to think it was a sign.
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