The Refuge of Walking and Writing

As you can see to the right of this frame, I reached my NANO goal of 50,000 words early this year.  Last year, I think I was right down to the wire. After some initial reluctance with the story and dealing with some “stuff” that it brought up, on Thanksgiving day and the day before, I really began to uncover the actual story that I wanted to tell and I was pleased to realize that despite its autobiographical beginning, this thing really IS fiction. The characters are really NOT me and another person I once knew. They took on lives of their own, I can see their faces and could probably give a sketch artist a decent description and the result would not look like me or anyone I once knew.

Last year, my story was an idea that grew out of my work situation.  The actual mechanics of that drove the story along and now that I’ve had a year to think about it, I want to bring it back out and refine it, hone it with more character work, and smooth out the rough plot edges.

This year, the relationship between the two main characters WAS the story, at least initially.  What stumped me was that after I started, I realized I was simply re-hashing “real” events and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to tell an honest-to-goodness story that people might actually want to read.

So I went for a walk. For as long as I can remember, walking has helped clear my head of unnecessary clutter and useless thoughts. The act of putting one foot in front of the other, feeling the ground peel away under my feet, making progress down the road, it’s an oddly freeing sensation.  Of course, it’s slower than driving which can offer the same results, but it’s more deliberate. You are completely connected with the earth when you walk, regardless if it’s a city street or a wooded path.  While I was walking this particular time (and several times after that), my mind was able to let go of trying to wrestle the story to the ground like a terrier with a rat. I was able to allow it to flow forward naturally, not getting bogged down in memories, but letting the actual characters do what they wanted to do rather than try to manipulate past actions of real folks.

Suddenly, I had a real plot! I had an ending and a decidedly unexpected twist if I could be a skilled enough writer to handle it. I really want to finish this novel.  I want to see how these characters make it to the end that I think is coming. But characters have a way of taking control of their own lives, so who knows how it will actually end up. The important thing is that I finally feel that I’ll be able to bring this one to completion, and that, my friends, is a fine thing.

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