Friday, November 14, 2008

Learning Persistence

Every day while I'm at work, I think of David and his Chapter 3 dilemma and how to get him from point a to point b in so many words while maintaining forward momentum and a reasonable amount of interest. I sometimes have flashes of insight, which I scribble onto a memo pad during my free moments. At the end of the day, I pull the sheet off of my memo pad and stuff it into my purse (which is bursting with them) and drive home, eager to sit at my desk in my home 'office' and commute my scanty handwritten notations into actual plot. Instead, I get distracted or discouraged and end up wasting time on Facebook or adjusting my Netflix queue. I haven't gotten much real work done on the chapter all week. I've sat at my computer with the working document open, staring at a blinking cursor and maybe adjusting two or three sentences before giving up.

I'm using the excuse that I got a flu shot and have had a mild but persistent reaction that makes me feel just unwell enough to be a little cranky, but not so unwell that I can't function normally.

I think a lot of the real problem stems from the fact that I have gotten to know the child David fairly well, but the man David is still so unformed that I find it difficult to imagine his reactions in the situations I have placed him in. This, in turn, makes it nearly impossible to write him. I'm not saying that David is an unformed character, because he most certainly is extremely multi-dimensional. I simply mean that he, himself, is in the midst of a very dynamic period of personal growth. It's difficult to introduce someone who doesn't quite have a handle on who they are. He is at a crossroads in his life and until he meets Claire, he has no clear direction. It would help if I had some insight into what the pressure cooker of graduate school feels like. I have found some rather helpful blogs, though, and will just have to keep at it until I break through. In every narrative that I've ever written in which I run up against a wall, there is always a single sentence that acts as the Rosetta Stone to unlock the rest of the story. Once that single sentence is in place, every subsequent passage falls neatly onto the page. But getting to that keystone is the problem. It takes a great deal of hard work to figure out what's missing and where and then to fabricate a linguistic fulcrum. I actually say aloud to myself, "There's always a Rosetta Stone." when writing or solving a Sudoku puzzle. It's my equivalent of Cayce Pollard's mantra "He took a duck in the face at 250 knots."

Oddly enough, I've found the "Luminous Fish Effect" episode of Big Bang Theory to be a bit of an insight into how David must be feeling. In the episode, genius theoretical physicist Sheldon gets fired and subsequently loses all focus and spirals into a sort of frenzied tail-chasing. It's an incredibly comedic account of what I think must be going on in David's head during this juncture.

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