Shall We Dance

As the pages in the new WIP accumulate, my characters grow fierce. Their voices, once faint and willowy on the page, are now a force. Their strength rises from the page as heat off the asphalt on a two-lane highway does in the Mojave Desert. I am in awe of them and the story as it welds its power on the page, and over me.

I tell myself I am in control, and to a certain extent, I am. I decide when to sit down and write, but after that, I take the back seat. I am not saying pink and tangerine colored Nymphs with transparent wings appear and spin a magical bond between the MacBook and my imagination, but there comes a point when my focus is so intense I can’t be sure. I come to the blank page with a setting and a theme but somewhere in the middle, I’d swear I could feel wings fluttering overhead.

At the start of a story, I have a vague sense of the story line. Vague because I don’t compose beautifully detailed outlines or plot. In chapter two, I couldn’t tell you what was going to happen in Chapter 11. I know where to start the story and where to end it, but I haven’t a clue about the journey or the pages between, until I type the words. The process a writer follows as she weaves nouns and verbs together, dips and dives emotional obstacles, to create a world only she can see, is as unique as the chromosomes that gave her amber colored eyes and chocolate brown wavy hair.

I think of myself as the architect sitting at her desk. On the desk are a sketchpad and a number 2 pencil. As she begins the sketch, she’s certain a two story Victorian will emerge, but three hours and six cups of green tea later, what she’s drawn isn’t what she had in her mind’s eye, it’s so much more.

She sets it aside knowing as she does there is more there than what she sees on the page. It will remain a flat image until the rooms take shape, the joints come together, and she sees people milling about. Until she feels the energy, it’s only an image. This is how if feels when I start typing at page one. I have a foundation but I’m waiting on the characters. As all Divas do, mine arrive late to rehearsal, stumble over their lines, miss cues, under dress, and leave their shimmer behind until about word 39,000. 

When the story heats up, my Divas are on time, bitching loudly of course, but once their mojo kicks in, nothing, not even my ideas or expert direction, will stop them for taking charge or smacking me down if I get in the way of their three dimensional glorious selves. At word 39,001, there’s a shift. The lights flicker overhead. A cool breeze dances in and tickles my senses. I unbutton my blouse, roll up my selves, and inhale so deeply I get lost inside of myself.

I felt it last week. The fog in my head lifted taking with it the stale air. The view from inside my head is clearer than spring water in the Rockies, and the road ahead is one long stretch, of what this writer calls cinematic bliss. The story is there on either side of the road waiting for me to pull it into my pages. I am desperate to retrofit the story and rewrite the earlier chapters to fit the new energy, but I cannot.  The mojo is best used while it’s blazing.

Before writing the first novel, I didn’t understand the in-between world a writer inhabits during the writing process. I finished the first novel aware of some ethereal place I visited during the writing of the book,  but I lacked the vocabulary to describe the place, how it made me feel, and what took place on those blank pages. I typed THE END aware something beyond spectacular had occurred in me but it wasn’t anything describable. Besides, who in my everyday world would listen to me talk about the voices, and how the characters on the page grew stronger the further I traveled. My mind argued the Divas were not real, but I can’t swear on my heart they are not. All I know is I have vacationed in a place where magic happens. It’s where the writer, story, and characters dance.

I know this because I am sitting there now. It’s the crosswords of Imagination Avenue and  Ethereal Way. And let me tell you, it’s like hell, heaven, a sandy beach at midnight, a thunderstorm over Miami in August, its hot chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, the third glass of pink champagne. It’s goodbye after a ten-year love affair, its hello to come-hither flutters from Mr. Lanky. It’s all this, and some kind of special. 

Have you vacationed here before? Tell me about it?

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by

I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

37 thoughts on “Shall We Dance

    • Kelly – I thought about it being a bubble, but you know, I just couldn’t leave it there.. to me it’s more. Maybe because it’s only my second WIP and being the romantic that I am, I am all aflutter. Who knows.

  1. Jo Heroux

    For me it’s sometimes a 24 hour without a break trance. I cannot stop. I cannot even really take a good break, my brain just keeps writing and won’t let me escape. I have written round the clock more than one time and I certainly feel the drain when I walk away, at long last. I feel done. Empty and fear I will never write again. But as soon as I sit looking at the last page, the story begins anew running down my arms and exploding before my eyes. Again and again, I am surprised at what these people are saying and doing, but they need me to stay tuned in to get it right. I am the teller of their tale and they are furiously telling it to me. I am their tool and basically I have no control. That’s what it’s like for me.

    And I love every second.

    • Jo, I’ve never written 24 hours straight. I’m holding at 8. I was drained after that stint. I don’t know if could last a full day, but then again I never though I could write for a full work day. It is magical, scary, consuming, exhausting, exhilarating, and some kind of zany.

  2. Great post.

    When I go to that place in my writing, it’s the same as when I’m engrossed in a good novel. Time doesn’t stand still – it disappears. I feel the world of the story around me. I greet the characters as friends or enemies. I know their motivations, their fears and see their paths spanning out before them. It’s a magical thing, charming and alive.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Fi Phillips recently posted….Tuesday Choice WordsMy Profile

    • Thanks much, Fi. I can’t tell you how much I relate to your comment. I am dead center in the time standing still place. The writer and the words move forward, and time swirls around the writer where and when the two emerge is a curious subject to ponder. I wonder if it’s like waking up from a deep sleep. I like that you described characters as friends and enemies, they are and can be both.

  3. Enjoy it!
    My main character can sometimes be predictable. Like, her aggravation when she can’t find a parking spot, that she keeps buying books at yard sales she may never have time to read (have I mentioned that she has no room for even one more book?) and can never figure out quite what to do with her hair.
    Maybe one day she’ll get a full body tattoo.

    • June, as you know I am both enjoying it and drowning at the same time. I’ve learned and continue to learn during this month of writing. Of course, everything else in my life is falling behind, but such is life. I say let your main character go wild.

  4. It’s true, there are times when I spend so much time observing the outside world – and trying to clothe my fictional characters in these same observations – that after a while I have to pour myself a good strong drink (even though I have no taste for such a thing) or, failing that, place a dried kidney bean in each shoe to help me stay grounded in my own ‘real’ world! Great writing Brenda.
    Cathy recently posted….The Continuing Misadventures of Mrs. Li ~ 3My Profile

    • Hello Cathy! It’s a place unlike another, this writing of a novel. I hope one day to find the exact words to share my place of manic, heaven, bliss, and sometimes hell. Until I do, I keep writing. Thanks kindly for your words.

  5. I so enjoyed reading this. Thank you! My mojo went under recently, but is beginning to peep over the rim of the chasm, and I know she’s pulling something behind her…hope it’s good!!!

    • Edith, I am so glad to hear. You know what they (the magic fairies) when a writer is feeling lost they should sit down and write, anything. Somewhere in the stream of consciousness you’re words take shape.

  6. Brenda, I know exactly what you are describing here which, by the way, you did exquisitely as always. My characters certainly took on a life of their own and my story line? Like you, while I had a general sense of where I was headed, there are things I wrote that I can only credit God for the inspiration. Seriously, I looked up from a chapter one day and literally said aloud, “Where did that come from?”

    Savor the journey and the mystical, magical carpet ride of writing!

    Blessings!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….Sunsets and PuppiesMy Profile

    • Martha, I knew you would. You were on my mind today. I was thinking about your novel and the trilogy. I am always amazed in the first draft phase. I do believe the story is fester below the surface and the further we get into it the details surface as we hash it out on the page.

  7. This is such a lucid and lovely description of the creative process! Those people, places and things are real because you have made them so. And described it all so brilliantly! Well done, Brenda!
    Linda Medrano recently posted….A Cautionary TaleMy Profile

  8. No, I don’t vacation there, I live there 😉

    My favorite lines: “The lights flicker overhead. A cool breeze dances in and tickles my senses. I unbutton my blouse, roll up my selves, and inhale so deeply I get lost inside of myself.”

    Makes me want to go write — I think I will ;-*
    Dangerous Linda recently posted….voices (and visions) in my headMy Profile

    • Linda, there was never a doubt in my mind where you lived. I am a frequent vacationer to this place. I love being here, but I also enjoy the quiet in my mind where I sit back, ponder new ideas, and let them grow for later cultivation.

  9. ***I know this because I am sitting there now. It’s the crosswords of Imagination Avenue and Ethereal Way. And let me tell you, it’s like hell, heaven, a sandy beach at midnight, a thunderstorm over Miami in August, its hot chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, the third glass of pink champagne.***

    My God, You Thrill thrill THRILL me!!! Love those sentences. Love love love. x
    My Inner Chick recently posted….12 More Very Cool ThingsMy Profile

    • Kim, smiles. It’s a thrill for my writer’s heart to read your comments. They always leave me smiling inside and out. Thank you, today I am bobbing in a sea of words and taking on water. Perfect timing.

  10. “somewhere in the middle, I’d swear I could feel wings fluttering overhead.”

    I rarely hear flutterings but I know they must be there. I look up and they’re gone. For me, it’s more of an intense, thick fluid that coats over me when the writing gets good. I’m still not sure if it’s warm or cold, or just how thick it is. I know it glides on my skin and I’m in a river at night, pale moon somewhere not too faraway. And I am alone (besides the company of the intense fluid) and unafraid.

    I love how you are dancing with your characters and stories. Let your divas bitch. When it comes to your time to write, they will give way to you (hopefully). Enjoy your magical process!

    • Beautiful description, Claudine. I felt your words, ‘intense, thick fluid…’ rather than read them. It’s not secret I am fascinated by the write’s process. I take great pleasure writing about writing – the magic, and Love, the magic. I wonder sometimes if I will ever land on the perfect descriptions of the two. Thanks, I am enjoying it, but I am also looking forward to reaching the end.

    • Monica, I never wrote creative non fiction as you do so well, until the blog, or a poem, which thanks kindly to readers, especially the likes of you, I now write poetry with fearlessness. All writing makes us stronger in our respective niches. And I just remembered your posts about the your puppy, the king of your house. Not bad, not bad at all.

  11. An ethereal world! How spectacular is that? I think you’re on a trip of a lifetime, Brenda! Oh, I have vacationed too but like all my vacations, the time spent there seems far too short and I need to escape more often. I’m still digesting your last post about goals and am doing my homework 😉
    Astra recently posted….My life of crime: Domestic Investments 101My Profile

    • Astra – As buried as I am in this phase and loving the ride, I am keen to reach the end. I am standing still in the center of my own word tornado. The story swirls around me everyday. I want to crawl over to the edge and climb out for a rest, to write a love letter, a poem, a want ad, but no, I have crossed the great divide of almost done. When you’re ready, you’ll take the dive.

  12. I have had those magical, fluid times. Right now the WIP (a literary novel) is just. Plain. Hard. Labor. And it’s hard to get myself to sit down and concentrate, partly because the rest of my life is demanding and my writing time is chopped up. …It’s partly that, but also the plodding comes from reading over the work I’ve done during times of intense, lyrical word flow, and finding out…the bitch needs structural work. The sentences are pretty, but the story form isn’t there. Letting it rip is great, but in order for the work to be taut, you have to be kind of cold and analytical, and it’s not always that much fun.

    I hope I don’t come off as a wet blanket…I love everyone’s joie de vivre! (Brenda, you describe that state so well)
    Helen W. Mallon recently posted….Dining Out: A Lap Full O’WineMy Profile

    • Helen – Not at all, I appreciate your honesty. I don’t go back and edit AT ALL in this phase. It’s the wide open wild dance phase, mine anyway. We each have our own process when it comes down to the story. I realized writing my first novel the on going editing slowed me down getting the bones of the story on the page. This time around I thought I’d play it different. It’s damn hard to keep moving forward, but also liberating.

  13. Hi Brenda,

    I’d love to have a visit by those “pink and tangerine colored Nymphs.” I’m sure that they’d have a lot to say.

    I think that outlining is useful, even if we stray from it. I should take that approach more often.

    Last week, I felt that I was in one of those grooves you describe. It went on for pages and pages. I didn’t pause to edit, as I usually do, I just wrote. A few days later, I reviewed what had poured out of me. There were some good parts that I will use, but there were also a lot of passages that caused me to furl my brow and wonder, “Who wrote that?” It was crazy. It was also a lot of fun.
    Ray Colon recently posted….Moments PassMy Profile

    • Hi Ray- That’s the beauty of the first draft, it’s a no judge zone. We write. The real work begins in the redraft and continues until the polish phase. The act of you sitting and writing without pausing is you working out your creativity, take it for a stroll around the block.

  14. It’s kind of like accessing Narnia through the wardrobe in the attic – for a little while, it SEEMS like a keyboard and computer screen, and then you’re IN, seeing and tasting and smelling what your characters do, feeling what they feel. Is it a vacation, a dream, an adventure?

    Whatever it is, we who have spent time at the crossroads of “Imagination Avenue and Ethereal Way” – love that phrase – know we’ve been there.

    Really sucks sometimes to have to return to the “other side” and change the catbox and dress for the day job.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted….Why Don’t They Just STFU and Get Granny Her Voter ID?My Profile

  15. k~

    Words that fluently fly through a turbulent sky are magick to me. Characters that dance, and prance through my mind while impatiently waiting (sometimes demanding) my attention are constant. Like you, I leave the canvas of the in between open, or at least I have until now. I have been challenged, and accepted it, as a move to expand and constrain my writing by using a storyboard that has a particular timeline. I am determined to follow it through, but it is not the same thrust I am accustom to, and the dialogue is not only between my characters now… they must include me. 😉
    k~ recently posted….Peel Me~ (100 Word Song)My Profile

    • K-Oh how I’ve missed chatting with you. It’s been a quick summer for me. Daughter home, now going back to school, figuring out my writing plans for the rest of the year, getting a little lost in the middle. I’ve not tried a storyboard, but I can see the merits in the timeline. It might be something I do before the redraft. Something visual to help me clear up the dates. In the fast draft process things change quickly. Thanks for the idea.

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