The Duct-Tape-Conflict Fix
Friday, August 21, 2009

I am coming to that place in my story where all the emotions begin to erupt. Everyone's getting mad, someone's about to throw something, tears might follow, or shouting, or running away. I look at the words on my computer screen, and suddenly remember that I haven't checked the phone messages in two days. Or I listen for the washer and realize it has stopped. Time to hang the clothes out in the sun.

Or maybe some frozen yogurt would help me figure out just how the next chapter should flow. Time to head to Yogurtland!

I've been watching myself run from conflict for years now. I'm not even sure how I manage to make it back to my desk to continue to write those scenes that bring out the emotion in folks. I'm all for harmony. And of course, that's how I am in real life, too. But you can't have a story without conflict-writer friends know I've tried! It's probably only due to my stubborn streak and a maniacal obsession for loving to cross things off lists that I bungle through writing the tougher scenes... But oh, how long it takes for me to pen anything that is conflict riddled!

It reminds me of my son, who can't sit through a mushy or embarrassing scene in a movie. Even now, at fifteen, he rises from the couch and slinks away until the kissing is finished. He laughs at himself, but won't keep that bottom planted for those thirty seconds of smooching.

Every writer comes at the process of creation and revision (and marketing-since that is now the third rung in a writer's life) differently. I don't like marketing, but I am capable enough, and can do it-will do it-knowing its importance. I love to edit, and can pass hours and hours with a rough draft and coax from it better and better words; that is the part of the process in which all my gifts come together. But writing those most important FIRST draft scenes-filled with raw upset and emotion-that writing only comes out in fits and spurts. Sometimes I walk (or flee is a better word) just as much during the writing of a scene, between trips to the kitchen for snacks or sips of unneeded water, as I do when I'm out walking for exercise later...

I'm looking for solutions. I've thought about working in a public space, where pacing the coffee shop would be unacceptable, and where the laundry and dishes would be far from my hands. But it's hard to cry and talk to yourself, or listen to music in a public space. I'm not sure that's the best idea. I've also thought I might put a seatbelt on my chair and actually strap in. Or maybe duct tape, which would be much harder to undo. I figure if I can't physically leave my writing space, then I might make it through these scenes much more quickly, and maybe the writing will be even more explosive, with all that pent up energy in my body releasing itself through my madly typing fingers. I'll let you know how it goes. It sounds like a fun experiment, or, at minimum, something that might provide a few good laughs while hanging out at Yogurtland.