Friday, June 17, 2005

Waiting for the wave

I was in the zone this morning and it was glorious. Until the phone rang.

Nobody but my husband calls me at that hour of the morning, so I snatched up the receiver without thinking and was startled to hear a friend's voice: "Hey. You answered. I figured I'd get your machine, but decided to try my luck. I know you're probably writing now, so I'll only keep you a minute, I promise."

She did keep me only a minute, but I struggled with resentment long after hanging up because the call had broken my concentration. I've been waiting all morning for the magic to return, but it hasn't, so I've come here to blog about it.

Even when I'm not in a particularly creative mood I can always sharpen dialogue, smooth out narrative, review plot structure and characterization. I find those "housekeeping" chores quite absorbing, and after focusing on them for a while I usually feel something shift inside me. Sometimes it's a gradual change, sometimes a lightning flash. I never know how it's going to happen or when, so I'm determined to be there and to be ready for the next big wave to lift me and sweep me away.

This morning I waited and waited but no more waves came. That isn't to say I didn't get any work done. I did organize some chapters and I did some necessary editing. But I have the strongest sense that writing fiction isn't something I do, it's something that happens to me. Sure, there's discipline involved. Those nebulous ideas need to be captured and shaped into a real story and that's not an easy thing to do. But how and why the magic happens is something I've never understood. So I just try to stay alert, ready to drop everything whenever it comes.

My writing jags usually last for several hours and sometimes all night. My focus is usually so intense that I don't even feel hunger or physical exhaustion. I try to stay with it until things wind down to a natural conclusion and I'm left exhausted and happy. Sometimes when I get yanked away I am able to find my way back. This morning I couldn't, and that's frustrating.

But maybe it will happen again tomorrow. I don't want to risk missing anything good, so I'll be here at my computer, waiting.


Chris said...

I just did the "wave" here at my desk in Oregon. If everyone between me and you keeps it alive, it should be there by morning.

Be ready for it.

--Chris (dFm)

Anonymous said...

Hey I send you a "wave" from my desk in Missouri.

Brenda Coulter said...

Oh, knock it off, you clowns.