Apr. 16, 2015

Lying in Bed as a Creative Act

Yesterday afternoon I went to a party. Perhaps one beer too many but not too much. Nothing too unusual about that. I went to bed at my usual time but the next morning I felt lazy, staying in bed for a full three hours after usual. Dozing, off-and-on dreaming,  and thinking about my latest story. It was curious even then. I’m normally up at five, six at the latest.

But what happened next was unexpected. After taking care of some mandatory emails I took my coffee to an easy chair near the dogs whom, unburdened by the writer’s curiosity, were well into their early morning naps.

Here’s the backstory: I’m in the middle of a sequel about a sixteen year-old girl and was stuck on the plot. The story had plenty of action and was moving fast until it didn’t. I had taken the problem to my fellow novelists and had gotten pithy and on-point feedback about the story. They reminded me that I was writing a Quest story and had failed to honor the requirements of said plot. The proposed ending feels like an anti-climax one said.

Now, I knew the hero’s journey plot going in. It fits for my sixteen year-old but what was to reveal her take away from the experience? First sex? Please.

She’d been through a lifetime of stress but I had left out the results of being betrayed. (In fact, I had left out a betrayal.) What does one’s hero learn from that? Is she vengeful? Does she learn to too-quickly-compartmentalize people into good and bad? Is she someone who must compulsively be right for life? Does she check her feelings for the betrayer against her own behavior? Can she forgive? Does she in fact, grow up?

Nothing like a stout cup of Costa Rican coffee to set the mind straight. I sat there sipping and watched her come into the room where her betrayer sat. It’s the scene where the story comes together, in this case with some Grisham-like legal twists. But the focus is on her and the betrayer, both of them physically damaged and severely stressed. And both of them are aware of what happened and their parts in it. It’s a pretty good ending.

I need to spend more time in bed.

As serendipity will have it, my wife forwarded this article. I found it later in the morning.