If I Had A Photograph

Remember that Flock of Seagulls song? ‘If I had a photograph of you I wouldn’t spend my time just wishing…’

When I was young we bought a roll of film, took photos, and paid to have it developed. If you were lucky one or two turned out and the rest were tossed.

Then we spent money on photo albums. You’d peel back the thick plastic and carefully place your photo on the sticky cardboard and cover them back up with that plastic that froze in wrinkles for all eternity.

Then came digital, and how that changed everything. No more rolls of film unless you were a professional photographer or purist. No more development costs. The ability to delete all the embarrassingly bad photos.

And the ability to archive thousands and thousands of pictures on your computer, on the Cloud, even on your smart phone.

Until you accidentally delete all the photos you took from your trip overseas in July.

Until you remember that you didn’t back up the computer after downloading all those photos.

Until you realize that not only are all those photos gone, but also you’ve somehow lost the whole entire photo program on your computer.

Oops.

I’m reminding myself that things are just things. Photos are gone, but memories remain.

I am going to take the computer in to a repair expert though.

And if anything can be salvaged, I think I’ll print out photos and see if anyone still sells old sticky albums where pictures can be stuck safe for years.

Maybe.

Because all of this has also made me think about the people in California who lost their homes to the recent fires.

How quickly everything can be lost.

There is no backing up a whole house. There are no saving heirlooms and mementos to the Cloud. There is no shoving your child’s first report card onto a thumb drive, or the quilt your great-grandmother made. Emergency Services might bring you blankets, but it won’t be that quilt.

I’m thankful that all I’ve lost are some photos, and I ache for those who have lost everything, in so many ways.

I Love My Subconscious

But my subconscious doesn’t trust me. It doesn’t seem to think I’m smart enough to figure things out on my own.

Sometime in the wee hours last night I dreamed about a hornet. And a couple carpenter ants. And some earwigs. In the dream I’d moved some books and they all came out. They were crawling on me trying to sting and bite and I was madly trying to get them off me.

You know how nightmares go. When you describe something in the daylight after the fact, the dream sounds silly and you wonder why you were so scared. But during the dream you’re terrified.

My subconscious, though, didn’t seem to care that I was in the throes of panic trying to get the hornet off my arm.

Get this. In the middle of the dream, a, calm voice intrudes and says ‘this is what your character needs to feel right now’.

Geez. Even in my dreams I’m thinking about writing.

So now the tea is cold and my fingertips are numb because I’ve been madly typing for the past three hours.

I’m so glad my subconscious is smarter than me.

Knocking on the Story’s Door

I’m using this blog post in order to work my way through a writing barrier. It always helps to problem-solve through putting things into words.

The current work in progress is a dark story in a lot of ways, and draws from myths. I can see where it came from, during health issues and radiation and the ‘monsters’ we fight in all walks of our lives. I’ve put a lot of work into it and am at almost 80,000 words. The characters are joining up and I think I’m building toward the end, but there are still scenes to go.

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I’ve been fighting discouragement over the story because I can’t see the individual pieces as a whole. I’ve never written something where I have multiple points of view and multiple storylines. It’s been challenging to write, but up until now has also been fun because of that challenge. I work with one group of characters and if things slow down I can simply set them aside and move on to the next group. In a way it’s like writing several stories at once, with the fun of seeing how the threads all eventually tie together in the pattern of the story as a whole.

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I know how the story will end, and how all the pieces will eventually fit. But right now, writing the individual threads has become hard. I’m tired of fighting those threads, and want the lace fully woven.

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Added to that, I can see that a lot of editing will be needed. I’ll have to format the manuscript first, to put all the pieces in one place. I’ll then have to read it as the whole cloth and revise where threads don’t match, or where they pull away or snag. Plus the normal editing of things I fear I’ve ignored. For example, this is a story set in rain and woods, and yet my characters seem to be moving through it under invisible umbrellas, for as dry as they stay. Another example is that they are all dealing with the inciting incident, but smaller conflicts aren’t built up enough. So once the first draft is done, there’s still going to be a lot of work to do.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, a new story is tapping on the door of my imagination, trying to pull me through into its world.

I need to reignite my passion for the mythical story. I need to focus on it and quit looking for excuses to stop working on it in order to open the door wider to the new one.

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I’ve thought about taking parts of the current work to my critique group for review. But at least one person was uncomfortable with the selection I took last time because they don’t like scary things. And I have to ask myself this question: am I taking a piece there to be critiqued, or to have them tell me it’s awful so I can quit?

The thing is, it’s not awful. It’s rough and not great at the moment, but I think it’s going to be okay. I owe it to the characters, and the story, to finish it.

Which means I need to ignore the new one tapping at my imagination and immerse myself back in this myth, walk with these characters as they make their way through the mountains. I’m just not sure how to do it. If I take a break from this story, I’ll never go back to it.

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Okay, so I guess that means the solution is as simple as the old adage to put my butt in the chair and work.

Thanks for listening.

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