Monday, June 14, 2010

Shine a Light

The trick to walk around in the dark is to bring a light with you. Shine it ahead of you and you're not walking around in the dark anymore -- even though your eventual destination might be far out of reach.

Camping at music festivals, I've done a lot of walking around in the dark. The other night, it was just me and newfound friend Bob, stumbling home to our campsites from Plentyville, after we'd both had plenty enough that day.

Kathy gave me a little copper flashlight for our anniversary (7 = copper, which was news to me!), and with it, I could see maybe 15 feet ahead of me, which was more than enough. I didn't need to light up the camp. I only needed to know that I wasn't stepping on any other tent's guy lines. That light kept me on the trail, even though, for a while in Plentyville, I didn't even know which direction I should be heading out in.

This, by the way, is a long way around an extended metaphor. Or rather, the extended metaphor is a long way around what I'm trying to get to: I'm writing a book where I never really had an ending in mind. I had a middle in mind -- a strong middle, that probably, in reality, is a strong 2/3 point -- but from there, all was dark. And I've finally gotten there.

So instead of diving into another chapter blindly (as I did the last one, and I think I might have stepped on a scorpion), I took this afternoon and just typed away at my keyboard, thinking out loud. Thinking of places the story could go from here, and places the story shouldn't go. And while I still don't quite have an endgame, I'm a lost closer. Shining that light around let me pick a direction, and I know the next few steps will get me closer to where I want to be.

So that's my unpublished novelist's advice for today: When in doubt, shine a light and start walking.


1 comment:

Travis said...

Glad you found your way, Rob. In the very little writing I've done, a lot of time I know where I want to go, but can't figure out how to get there.