Ice: Writing is a Storm

No matter where in the country you were the week before Thanksgiving, chances are you heard about the major snowstorm that dumped up to seven feet of snow in the Buffalo, NY region. Being from the area (my dad still lives there and his snow total came out at 84″), I naturally followed the news. And no matter how many times I tried to explain to my co-workers in Pittsburgh or Atlanta, and no matter how many pictures I showed, I couldn’t seem to capture the essence of the storm. Guess you had to be there.

Now that it’s over, I realize something. Writing, at least for me, is a lot like that storm.

First, the idea hits. It won’t let go, and I’m stuck in the blinding fury of words. They come faster than I can type them, obscuring my vision. I’ve often dreamed scenes, over and over. They get stuck in my head until I commit them to Scrivener, even in sloppy first draft form.

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After the fury passes, I’m often left with giant piles of words. I don’t know which ones are good and which ones, well, suck. They lie about like drifts of snow, covering my windows, burying me inside. I need to get out my trusty shovel and snow-blower to dig myself out and find what’s underneath – the real story.

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This can take days, weeks even. A lot of times, a new storm comes through, leaving fresh piles of words. I get even more buried. And sometimes, it leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed.

But you know what? Eventually, the sun comes out. Some of the snow melts away. The icicles sparkle and the words crystallize. The true nature of the story is under those piles and drifts somewhere. Just like the roads and the sidewalks. You can always find them. You just have to dig deep enough. Be patient. And when I do get to the “bottom” of the pile, that scream of frustration above turns into a shout of triumph (but I’m still not sure I’d wear shorts and no shirt in the snow – scratch that, I wouldn’t).

So yes. Writing is like a storm. A wild, wonderful, unpredictable storm. I hope that my power doesn’t go out in the middle of it, and I hope there are enough supplies in my cupboard, and wood in the wood bin, to keep me going. But that the end, the world is a magical, glittery wonderland. A cheap adrenaline rush.

And all I have to do is wait it out.

Tell me, Mysteristas, for you, is writing (or reading) more like a snow storm or a lazy, gentle snowfall?

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Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She's worked for fifteen years in the corporate world, but finds making things up is far more satisfying than writing software manuals. A lifelong mystery fan, her short fiction has been published in online magazines Uppagus and Mysterical-e. She has also had stories included in Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales, Blood on the Bayou (the 2016 Bouchercon anthology), Fish Out of Water, and Mystery Most Historical. She is a past president of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime. Visit her online at http://lizmilliron.com, find her on Facebook at https://facebook.com/LizMilliron, or follow her on Twitter (@LizMilliron).

10 thoughts on “Ice: Writing is a Storm”

  1. Great visuals! And just like that snowstorm that traps you inside, your WIP holds you prisoner, too, at your desk. For me, the storm doesn’t usually happen until after a gentle but steady trickle starts piling up.

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  2. Pamela, thanks. The storm of the first draft and the “digging out” is all the revision.

    Cynthia, I’m sure you know all about lake effect! Those are pictures from my dad in Hamburg.

    Sue, most storms start with a trickle – next thing you know, you’re in the thick of it!

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  3. Love the imagery, especially since I am from upstate NY and just recently was there with family, braving snow, ice, and slick roads. My blizzards are, like yours, more of the literary variety these days. The good thing is that I’m ready with the shovel, ready to dig myself out later and discover the firm ground below.

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