Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting Out of Chapter Twenty-Nine


I didn’t want anything more to do with Chapter Twenty-Nine. The demon in my head was even suggesting I didn’t want anything more to do with the whole damned book. So I tripped into the avoidance dance.

First I decided our bedroom had to be completely reconfigured. This involved moving heavy furniture which meant I had to recruit my husband to the enterprise. He had no idea he’d become party to my scheme to avoid Chapter Twenty-Nine.

The bedroom actually did look better afterward but now I needed another detour. It occurred to me that we should be better entertained in there as well. [Please behave. I hear your sniggers.] I decided we couldn’t live without Amazon Prime on the bedroom TV.

Once again I enlisted my husband as my once again unwitting accomplice. He was much more enthusiastic about this project than he’d been about moving furniture. Who could resist the prospect of binge watching “Boardwalk Empire” for any entire weekend – which we then did.

Monday arrived with Chapter Twenty-Nine still lurking in my peripheral vision. I averted my gaze but I'd begun to feel a bit ashamed. I needed a truly justifiable diversion this time so I decided to pay the bills. I hate paying the bills but apparently I hated Chapter Twenty-Nine more.

During the night between Monday and Tuesday I developed a fortunate cough. Now I could tell myself I had a summer cold coming on. Grandma used to say “There’s nothing worse than a summer cold” and Grandma never lied. I downed a couple of pills that put my head in a fog and that took care of Tuesday.

This morning inevitably dawned and it was just as inevitably Wednesday. Hump Day – the day I had to get over the hump of Chapter Twenty-Nine or give up altogether. Would the previous twenty-eight chapters ever forgive me if I chose the latter? Would I ever forgive myself?

Somebody once said that the most important writing exercise ever is putting your butt in the chair. So I did that. I accessed Chapter Twenty-Nine on my computer and resigned myself to the discovery that it was still there.

Three characters were there too. The same three characters that had been boring the inspiration out of me five days before and all the days since. Something interesting had to happen or Chapter Twenty-Nine was DOA for sure.

I write romantic suspense so two of the three characters are stumbling toward falling in love. Sex is always exciting but the third character is the heroine’s mother. Sex wouldn’t work this time. But maybe I could tune up the suspense side of the story. Two cops arrived with two bad attitudes.

The rest was history as they say and I am out of Chapter Twenty-Nine at last.


I put my butt in the chair. In other words I showed up. I showed up for my story. I showed up for my characters. Most important I showed up for me. The writer who wants to get on to Chapter Thirty and all of the other chapters yet to come.


9 comments:

Janet Walters said...

Alice, I try to write less than 29 chapters in most books so as not to get stuck. I don't like being studk and the only thing to do is to clean house a bit.

Penelope Marzec said...

LOL! The number one sign that I am procrastinating in this house is when I decide to clean the oven. :-)

Alice Orr said...

Hello Janet Walters. How good it is to find you here. You are the soul of common sense as always. Fewer chapters would probably help. Except that I'm stuck with my version of story sense. Which is that shorter chapters make the narrative move faster and that's what I want in my suspense stories. I used to write twenty-page chapters double-spaced. Now I write eight to nine pages per chapter at most - still double-spaced. This also works for the time I feel most comfortable with per writing session. But who knows? All habits are made to be abandoned. Maybe I'll try longer chapters again someday. In the meantime I hope we see one another again soon. Alice

Alice Orr said...

Hi Penelope Marzec. I LOLing too. Because I use that very line in my writing workshops. I actually employ the term "Oven Cleaner Writing." Meaning I'd rather clean the oven than write it. I didn't mean to co-opt your words. The idea simply came to me years ago and I've been using it ever since. I think this is just another case of great minds running on the same track. Wouldn't you agree? Alice

Penelope Marzec said...

I think cleaning the oven is one of the worst chores in the house. Evidently, you don't like it either. :-)

Anonymous said...

Perfect. I have been there so many times. Have my mystery stuck on page 66. Characters are becoming impatient with me. Jennie

Krystol Diggs said...

My book that I am writing now will have 30 chapters. I am on chapter 7, so I need to get a move on it, lol.

Alice Orr said...

Hi there Anonymous. Yes our characters do get impatient with us. And yes we do get stuck sometimes. I have an exercise that can help with that. It's called "How to Cure the Muddle in the Middle." If you or anybody else would like a copy just email me a request for it at aliceorrseminars@gmail.com. I will send the exercise as an attachment to my return email. All in the interest of making certain we.. Keep on Writing Whatever May Occur. Alice

Alice Orr said...

Hi there Anonymous. Yes our characters do get impatient with us. And yes we do get stuck sometimes. I have an exercise that can help with that. It's called "How to Cure the Muddle in the Middle." If you or anybody else would like a copy just email me a request for it at aliceorrseminars@gmail.com. I will send the exercise as an attachment to my return email. All in the interest of making certain we.. Keep on Writing Whatever May Occur. Alice