Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breaking the Block, and another Happy New Year

I'm back, having survived travel through the holidays...yes, I was one of those stranded Christmas-time travelers, eyes searching the arrival and departure screens in three different airports, no less, for some small sliver of hope that I would 1) make it to my destination with 3 kids and in tow, and then 2), while repeating the whole episode again upon my return trip, really did not need to buy my own personal airplane to get home.

The highlight of the trip had to be when we were stranded in Minneapolis on our first leg out of Salt Lake. After checking into our hotel, with a whole day and night ahead of us, we hopped on the free shuttle to the Mall of America. My son, after having fallen in love with our room at Embassy Suites--with its two tvs and pool and great-glass-elevator and an upcoming happy-hour of free popcorn and soda, said, "This is going to be the best trip ever! It's like two trips in one!"

Yes, kids are awesome. And in a way, he was right. They loved the tunneled aquarium at the Mall, swimming at the pool, going up and down the great-glass-elevator all night, and drinking as much soda as they wanted for free while being surrounded by an indoor rainforest.

All this helped carry us through the next day, when we faced a couple more set-backs in Detroit.

Having gone through all that, I'm probably the only person on the planet, who after having suffered the inconveniences of cancelled flights on our way to NH, complained when I found I was booked in first class for our return flights to apparently make up for it. I complained--althougth not too loudly--because I'd be separated from my kids, who were flying coach. I can't fault the airlines, since it was an easy oversight. We'd booked our itineary on two different tickets -- with the kids' tickets bought via frequent flyer miles, and mine, via regular cash, so to speak.

Oh well, I didn't complain long, mind you. I figured the kids would be fine back in coach without me, being the seasoned travelers that they are...and as it turned out, they were... so those extra-big seats and comfy footrests were all worth it in the end.

Despite the setbacks, it was a fantastic holiday season. We reconnected with family, ate great food, got plenty of rest, plenty of play on the slopes, and enjoyed lots of fresh snow on both sides of the country. It seemed to follow us wherever we went, giving fresh new meaning to "White Christmas."

Perhaps the best present I got from Santa was one I hadn't expected, but one I very much needed--a break from this writer's block I'd been suffering. Yes, it happened to me, for most of the last half of 2008. And I was embarrassed by it. I didn't want anyone to know. I mean, as far as progress, I probably couldn't do any worse as a writer, because this is how my most of my days went:

Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Repeat.

I figure I wrote and deleted close to 50,000 words. I'd get to an end of a scene or chapter, and decide, "no, my character wouldn't say/do that. What's the point?" And I'd beat my head, decide what I'd written was crap, and walk away.

By December, I decided I'd had enough. No more. And I unplugged my laptop, hid it under some papers, and stopped thinking about that darned MG that was literally going to make me crazy if I didn't give it a rest.

I didn't think about it for a month. I needed a vacation, and I was going to enjoy the one I had with my kids and without the disappointments that writing was bound to bring if I dared pick up a pen.

Unbeknownst to me, Santa left something for me under the tree. And it wasn't anything that came wrapped. It was intangible, but definitely something I could feel.... it was a pull, a steady tug, luring me back to the computer. My story was finally ready to be told, or at least another part of it.

Last week, with the kids back in school, I sat back down to work again. For the first time in a long time, I was excited--eggcited, as my daughter used to say-- about the prospect. Giddy, even. And turned out, I had the best week ever. 25 solid pages of text added to my novel. Headway. At last!

Thank God, the BLOCK is over. On the bright side, I like to tell myself, that after having gone through all the things my characters would not have said and done, I finally know what they will.

And I can't wait to work it all out. Till the end.

So having gone through this, I have a question. Your answers might be helpful to me and others who have experienced this, or who may be going through it now. ... What have you done to break writer's block?

Happy New Year, Everyone!

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