Barmy Point

Posted Fri, 12/10/10

One of the most frustrating yet gratefully infrequent aspects of writing is the dreaded but inevitable condition known as "writers block."

In this particular instance, I'm not referring to the common emblematic affliction when an author can't write for days, weeks or months, but rather creative obstacles experienced during the editing process.

My current albatross is Part Three: The Twain Shall Meet from Collective Obsessions. At the moment, I'm editing some 340 pages and last night became stuck on one essential scene. My reaction to the blockage went through the typical gamut: re-wording, staring blankly at the computer screen, leaving it alone for a few hours but never quite getting it out of my head, and finally disgust as I went to bed at two o'clock this morning. I lay sleepless for a long time, during which another range of emotions washed over me: futility, despair, anger and finally, just before I fell off to sleep, stubborn determination to begin anew the next day. I remember thinking: "I've worked too hard to get to this point in my life, so I'm not going to give up now."

If there is anything I can offer in the way of encouragement to aspiring authors, it is to never give up on your dreams.

Although there are eight continuous parts to Collective Obsessions, The Twain Shall Meet was actually the first story written in the saga, which I penned many years ago. It was meant to be one book, plain and simple, but over time burgeoned into the family saga it is today. In essence, it was the starting point for Collective Obsessions as a whole. The other parts were written around it, but as the process went along there were many changes. This meant altering key points throughout the story as volumes developed, which I track by using spreadsheets.

The Twain Shall Meet (once called Larkin) was also the first book I ever wrote as an adult. In the twenty years since then, my writing style has changed, hopefully for the better. Thanks to my editor at Tyborne Hill, I learned a great deal about "threading" and trying to create one point of view (known as "POV" in the business) per scene. For me, writing one point of view is difficult. I tend to reveal thoughts and umbrages felt by multiple characters in each scene. Through years of writing, I've been able to temper my instinct when constructing dialog or detailed scenes. The "mind-hopping" still asserts itself on occasion, but experience has given me the ability to recognize and correct it.

At any rate, my day will be spent at the computer screen with The Twain Shall Meet. I'm fiercely determined to get past the current problematic scene, even if it kills me or drives me quite barmy in the process.

Tags: Collective Obsessions Saga; Writing