This word is used a lot. People struggle with their feelings, struggle with a problem, struggle with finances, struggle with beliefs. If someone were to ask how my writing is going, right now I would say I’m struggling. It’s early in this new novel, early in the process of getting to know new characters, trying to build their worlds. It’s a daunting task. But struggling?
When I looked it up, the definition I found was, “forceful or violent effort to get free of restraint or constriction.” Restraint? Maybe. Constriction? Kind of. But forceful or violent? I don’t think so. Writing can be difficult for sure, but the rewards of having put words on paper that tell a story, portray characters in a way that makes readers feel something far outweigh these feelings of being inadequate and lost.
Instead of a forceful or violent effort, I’m taking a simpler and gentler approach, one that I believe will work for me. I’m starting again. I realize I have become much too attached to what I have written so far, so attached I have become reluctant to admit it’s not working, that it’s not good enough, strong enough or genuine enough to support the rest of the story. I know better, but I have been doing it anyway.
It’s like when you’re going somewhere, whether it’s to a physical place or an event, and you start having second thoughts. You have a feeling you should turn around, and even when the feelings get stronger you keep going, maybe telling yourself, Well, I’ve gone this far . . . The last thing you want to do is turn around and go back, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do. Maybe not all the way back to the beginning, but where you took that turn or went right at the fork when you should have gone left. Or maybe, like me, a new beginning is exactly what is needed.
As a writer, I know I need to be willing to go all the way back to that very first sentence, examine what I’ve written as closely and objectively as I can, and let go of what doesn’t work. I know that out of these thirty or so pages I have put time and effort and heart into there will be a sentence, a character’s thought or observation, maybe a paragraph that is real and true and belongs in the telling of this story.
I already feel better knowing this, having this plan to begin again, instead of struggling to work with what I have been desperately trying to hold onto that isn’t working. I will continue to work every day, doing my best to develop a solid understanding of the truth of this story, holding onto the belief that I can eventually trust where I’m going.