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.
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.
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?