How does the germ of an idea plant itself in the soft soil of our brain and spout a fruit tree, a beautiful garden or a tangle of weeds? The garden is pruned and cared for with loving hands. The weeds we hack, pull out by the root and send to the trash.
When my work didn’t make it from the brain to the blank page, it remained, often untended and with no conscious effort on my part, continued to grow.
But what happens when faced with the dastardly blank page, your mind is a wash … or it’s simply not there ?
A blank page …
Consider, if you will, where your mind goes when it decides to take a break, freezes like a car battery in mid February or floats out to sea in a leaky life boat. Why can’t you think of that person’s name? Where did your snappy retort go? Can’t remember the punch line to a joke?
You drove all the way to work, the supermarket or to meet someone for lunch. The car is parked in a legal space and it dawns on you. How the hell did I get here? And what could have happened to me while my brain was absent?
You just watched a great movie and ten minutes later you can’t remember the name of the main character. The next morning the entire plot has gone off to left field.
Ever walk into a room to get something and realize you forgot what you were looking for?
Did you actually look for the sugar bowl in the freezer, try to locate the car keys in your sock drawer?
The cliches … my mind is playing tricks on me … I think I’ve lost my mind … mind over matter … if you put your mind to it.
Ah yes, pilgrims … the mind is a terrible thing to lose. So why is mine taking another unscheduled coffee break? Well for one, it’s Tuesday and I need to write something for tomorrow.
What writers call a “block” is actually their minds refusing to show up for work … or playing the game of … hell no I won’t go.
Can your brain go on strike or turn on you?
I believe my mind was on strike for about twenty years in the middle of my life. That may or may not coincide with raising two children. Motherhood is a type of mind game. They play the game … you lose all your marbles.
During the secretarial years … I might take dictation for an hour … write it all down dutifully in Pitman shorthand and when I got back to my desk had no recollection of one single word the man said. Many was the time I’d take my steno pad to a fellow secretary who read Pitman and ask if she could help me unravel the mystery of twenty pages of letters that had to be in the mail by noon.
There are dozens of things one can do when the mind takes a walk. Follow it and take a walk yourself. Go for a run. A ride. Make something. Bake something. You can get out of your head by helping someone else …
… or you can get outside your head by reading. Not to mention that as writers, reading is a great way to learn.
But I digress …
Back to the blank page. You’re on. The ideas are flowing and you have the sensation that something has happened at last. Then what?
Then you take your precious treasure and you entrust it to a critique partner or a BETA reader. You join a group and you trust them and yourself that sooner or later after all of the millions of words and thousands of pages, you have finally done it.
Today I want to take the time to give homage to that process. Like the law of averages, a jury of your peers, and the average median statistic on a chart, somewhere in every group there will be one or two individuals you can trust. A person who for unknown reasons and without ulterior motives, is genuinely interested in your work.
How does the germ of an idea plant itself in the soft soil of our brain and spout a fruit tree, a beautiful garden or a tangle of weeds?
I don’t have an answer. However, I do know that I’ve been one very lucky person to meet just the right person at just the right time. Thanks. You know who you are.
Now for other news …
There are a half-dozen readers who comment frequently on my weekly posts. Some of them are accomplished writers with published or about to be published works. Often they use their blogs to talk books, host blog tours or interview writers.
Kudos to those who share with their readers the many books they read. It’s like having a moveable feast of to-be-read material.
When you spread the word about someone you know … it’s like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching as it ripples outward.
I do love the way my mind brought you in a complete circle. From the germ of an idea to the pages of a completed novel, novella or short story.
In case you run out of reading materials …
- Find and read The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake. The Sweet Spot is a story of family, survival, and second chances. Visit Goodreads for the complete review.
- Follow my good friend Christi Corbett on Facebook or on her blog and read about her up-coming novel Along the Way Home. Read her recent post on her journey to publication here.
- Go to amazon or your local bookseller and pick up Shelley Noble’s Beach Colors. Beach Colors hit the NY Times Best Seller’s List in April. Find her other books and then follow her mysteries under Shelly Freydont.
So what about you?
Will you leave names and titles of books in comments today.
And like ripple on a pond,
those great stories will circle out to someone else.
fOIS In The City
* The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.