Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It Don't Get Any Easier

I swing my car into the driveway, hit the remote, and wait for something to happen.

Gee, do I need a new battery? I shake the thing (as if movement will somehow re-energize it) and press the button harder. Still nothing. Finally, it dawns on me.

The power is out. AGAIN.


According to my neighbors, it’s been out about an hour. We commiserate over last week’s missed airing of the Academy Awards, and I search the car for a house key. Luckily, I find one, let myself in, and light a couple candles (singeing my thumbnail in the process). (Well, how did YOU think that should be spelled—singing?? Okay, I admit it. That’s how I spelled it at first.)

After awhile, with nothing else to do, I take a bath by candlelight (which, it turns out, is preferable to bright lights because there’s a full length mirror right by the tub). The rushing water drowns out the radio, so I start to think about the Daphne, a contest for romantic suspense.

I haven’t really written much true suspense, but I lie there wondering if I could. Better yet, I wonder if I could write something by the deadline. I start to play with plot ideas.

The power comes back on and I launch myself from the tub, throw on jammies, and make a mad dash for the computer. A half hour later (that’s quick!) I have a rather decent synopsis.

Maybe, just maybe, I can do this. All I need now is the first fifteen pages of the novel and I can enter the contest.

Ah, but here’s where the problems roll in. See, even with a great premise, an opening hook, and a fair idea of who the characters are, the thing won’t let loose from my brain. I take a break to watch The Apprentice, but all in all, write for about three hours. Guess what? Three hours = three pages. A looooong way from fifteen.

Today, I steal time from work and add six more, but it’s not going well. Somehow the synopsis is NOT translating to the written pages. The deadline is passing, and I’ll save the file as a future project. Maybe.

The strange thing is this: I never used to write a synopsis first. (And man, let me tell you, they’re rough to write after-the-fact—by that time figuring out the simple essence of the story requires insight I don’t seem to possess yet.) Anyway, so I thought if I mastered the synopsis BEFORE I wrote the story, I’d be that much father ahead. Wrong. All I’ve mastered is seeing the difference between envisioning the story and executing it.

No wonder Leftovers is taking forever.

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