sproutLast night, I learned a lesson. Again.

Early yesterday morning, I’d sat in the chair in my office, coffee on a nearby coaster, staring at the blank page of my notebook.

I was stuck. In particular, on a chapter that seemed contrived, where something happens but I didn’t like how it happened. It was too easy, didn’t challenge the characters enough, eased the plot simplistically into the direction it needed to go.

Any smart reader would be irritated.

Normally, when stuck, I try to push my way through.

Sitting there, I even grabbed my copy of Eric Maisel’s Write Mind and opened it to a random page. It said something about anxiety. I didn’t feel anxious. I felt…


So I gave up. Turned instead to my poetry manuscript, to tweak it once again, in order to send it back out in the world to another potential publisher (fingers crossed).

I felt the giving up. It was like a relaxing, a slumping. Like falling down on the grass after a long walk, like easing your backpack off your shoulders when you’ve reached the place you need to be.

I dove in to my other work.

In the night, I woke up at 2 a.m.

I woke up writing, is what I say.

I went to the guest room, where the cat, of course, thought I’d gotten up in order to cuddle her. I pushed the pen through these visceral scenes until 3:30 or so. It was like dictation; the world so real the gulls were calling, the water crashing on shore, the bits and pieces right there, ready to be described.

And I got it: the way to go forward, the way to bury the mechanics of the plot turn so it doesn’t seem so intentional, so easy, so contrived.

Then I went back to bed, and curled myself around our heavy dog, sleeping under the covers.

I’ve learned this lesson lots, and here I am learning it again. Stuck-ness is not really stuck-ness. It’s more like germination. Under what can feel like dull, cold soil, laying there, doing nothing, a seed’s walls are thinning, preparing to crack.

My seeds are night-blooming, it seems.

By the way: a week from this Sunday, I’ll be in Orillia, talking about trusting your instincts in the writing process and giving a short workshop on revising creatively. Come if you’re nearby, and you’re writerly, and you want to! And a week after that, I’ll be up in my old stomping grounds, just west of Blind River, for a fantastic program of talking about deepening characters and giving a reading and listening to music matched to Swarm! Details here:


Sprout photo by David