Best Laid Plans
Last week, a request came in via email for a novella on spec. It had a pretty aggressive deadline, but that was fine. I’d been working on a story that would fit the bill perfectly. A few tweaks and I’d have it ready to go. The hubby had appointments all day Saturday and had to leave at o’dark thirty to make his first early morning appointment. Tough on him, but it promised to leave me with plenty of time and quiet for writing.
The best laid plans, right? Two problems presented themselves immediately.
1. On Friday night, the guy on the left here began bleeding. We realized he’d had an abscess on his tail and that it had burst. That left me to call the vet clinic at 8am to see if I could have the cat seen. And I didn’t have a car. My mother came out, picked us up and carted us to the local emergency vet clinic where we discovered the burst abscess was a big, hairy deal that required surgery, drains, stitches, antibiotics and moster pain medications. For the cat. Not, sadly, for me. I had to leave him at the clinic and go home to pretend I might get something done while worrying about my boy. Long story short, he’s home. He’s recovering. Saturday, however, was a complete wash. No writing of any kind happened. The writing that happened thereafter occurred in between holding the trembling, drugged cat with the oozing wounds and keeping the rest of the family from imploding.
2. The story had a problem and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was. I’d been working on this novella for months. In the middle of the story, everything came to a crashing halt. Couldn’t make headway. I knew how the story ended, heck, I’d written the ending. I knew what needed to happen in the scenes I had yet to write. I even had them mapped out, but for the life of me, I couldn’t seem to get them down. Now, with a deadline staring me in the face, I had to. Didn’t I?
Wasn’t working. I plodded along putting one word after another, but it all felt dead. Lifeless. And I procrastinated by doing an internet search on motivation for writers. It was there, quite by accident, that I stumbled across the answer. I’d been resisting writing those scenes all this time because they didn’t serve this story. Oh, the epiphany wasn’t that simple. I read through a bunch of stuff out there on the internet about how to motivate myself to write (rather than actually writing). It wasn’t until some time in the wee hours, when my husband got up to take over feline nursing duty, that the light bulb went on in my head. Naturally, said epiphany (delete the scenes you’re having trouble with, dummy!) hit at the same moment my head touched the pillow – guaranteeing that regardless of my sleep deprived state – there’d be no rest for me until I’d gotten up and dealt with ripping the problem scenes out of the story.
Presto. All the fun and animation of the story came back. Finished the draft with time to spare for critique and rewrites. All of which goes to prove that writer’s block usually isn’t a block at all – it’s a warning that somewhere you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.
After the fact, it’s occurred to me. I had to do surgery on that story similar to the surgery done on my cat. The infection had to be located, opened and drained before it could heal. That said, I still think veterinary clinics should be licenced to dispense drugs to owners bringing their animals into the hospital. I maintain it would have made handling the cat’s surgery and the gutting of my story easier to handle if I’d been offered valium.