When I returned home to Pennsylvania in September, I had ulterior motives.  I wanted to see my mother, of course, and I wanted to visit dear friends, which I did.  But most of all I wanted to write.

Things, however, didn’t go as planned.

I anticipated a resolute commitment to plot, form, structure and characterization by the time Labor Day weekend was over.  (Yes, I do believe in miracles.)

What actually happened is I came to the conclusion that the outline I had written just a few short weeks earlier bore no relevance to the story I wanted to tell.  Oh well.

Prior to realizing the error of my ways I was forcing dialogue, bending situations, and following a convoluted story arc that led to no satisfying conclusion.  It was like trying to shove my size six feet into size five and a half Stuart Weitzman pumps.  It just wasn’t going to work.  The pumps…er, plot…had to go.

And so, after my long weekend in Pennsylvania, the only thing I was bringing back to California was a new title for my novel:  The Growing Season.

So I stopped writing.  I wasn’t concerned at first.  I knew I needed to process everything; I knew I had to fall back into my normal routine.

A couple more weeks passed and nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  I was bringing old, reworked dreck to my critique group or waiting until the very last moment to pull together fifteen hundred sloppy words.

No – this was not a good sign. I reached the point of feeling comfortable not writing.  I felt all right about giving up.  I convinced myself I’d be happy dropping the occasional blog post to get it all out of my system.  After all, my life would be so much simpler if I didn’t write.  I could read for recreation, watch more television, shift that ten pounds I gained with the first novel.  Heck – I might even develop a social life!

So I stopped showing up.

But then it happened.  They started talking to me.  Nagging me.  No, not in a ‘it’s time for your medication’ way – but in that itchy way we feel when there’s something on the ‘to do’ list that we keep putting off.  Eventually Cora, Wanda and Rose let me know in no uncertain terms they weren’t ready for me to give up.  And when Scott’s grandmother Helen Hamm arrived I couldn’t get a word in edgewise!

During my time away from the computer Cora, Wanda and Rose took flight.  As their characters developed, they liberated me from the burden of true experience.  It’s their story I’m telling now, not mine.

And now the words are flowing again.  Isn’t that the most exquisite feeling in the world?

 

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