Drowning in the quicksand

March 27, 2018

Today I talk about how writing is like drowning in quicksand.

Yes, you heard me right. Drowning in quicksand.

And yet you have to trust the process. It is the only way you might survive.

I’ve heard it said, though never *thankfully* experienced, that if you fall into quicksand, you are not supposed to struggle for that makes you sink faster. If you can remain calm, you will actually float. That’s certainly not something I want to test out. Ever! However, I also know that things found in the physical world often replicate things in the world of the interior self. Nature is often a mirror which reflects.

So when I reflected on my writing process this weekend, I realized that it really was a lot like falling into quicksand.

For two days, I fretted and worried over what I was going to do. This scene was important. One character had just expanded up on it, blowing my plans out of the water. Oh, this was good and needed to be done. I’d been seeing visions of it in my head for a couple weeks, I just didn’t know where it would happen and I certainly didn’t expect it to be during this one scene. I have barely three weeks to get this story together! I can’t have a section where I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have to get it all together, like now!

I talked with both my boys about it. Neither had an answer for me. I thought about it. I tried to program myself to dream about it; instead I had a dream about Robert Downey Jr. coming into my day job office. (Yeah, mark that down as an epic fail, even with Robert Downey Jr. doing a cameo in my dreams. That was unexpected and I certainly didn’t get my answer. The boys and I had been planning on going to see Black Panther then next day, so I’m sure Marvel movies were somewhere in my thoughts. Hence, Iron Man.)

So, finally, I was down to my last option: I had to just work on the damn story.

It’s hard when you don’t know where to begin or where you’re going. I don’t have to (or want to) know the whole path, but I honestly had written myself into a corner. I had the one thing that had been suggested in book 1 and I had the unexpected, both in the same scene. But how was I going to fix it?

I edited the story, the part that I had dictated out. It needed transitions and adjustments. It started to pull me into the story like quicksand. I was going under. Worse, I was thrashing about trying to free myself because I didn’t know how I would succeed. Remember, my time for drafts and failures is over for this book. I don’t have time for that.

Then I slipped beneath the surface. That’s when the answer was delivered. Like a shiny gem, unexpected and beautiful. It was something that in two days of wrangling I had not thought about at all. I swear I could have slapped my head at that moment too. So bleeding obvious! Especially since in fixing another transition, I had mentioned something that will end up being some foreshadowing for this scene. I will admit that I’m only realizing how I need to go back and tweak that scene as I’m reflecting on it, but it will work out nicely.

Yes, trust the process.

In fact, this scene is telling me larger sections of the story as a whole. It really is amazing me. I wish that this part of the process wasn’t such a struggle sometimes, that is wasn’t like labor: pain, suffering, over, miracle in your arms.

Yet maybe that is what helps to humble artists. If everything came too easily, we wouldn’t appreciate it when we step back to realize that we’ve created something from nothing. We might not appreciate the stories we’ve been given to tell.

When you step into the quicksand, you must remember to be still and let yourself float. The story will save you.

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